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BC wildfires and Vancouver

I am visiting Vancouver for the very first time during Labor Day weekend. I just watched local news about the Kelowna wildfires. Should I cancel my trip?

In fact, I originally planned to visit Chicago but changed the destination due to the poor air quality.

Hope everything is ok for those affected.

Posted by
1696 posts

Vancouver is a 5-ish hour drive from Kelowna. It's possible the air quality can be affected from fires in the interior, but it's much more common for the air currents to travel from west to east.

Of course, there are no guarantees, but if it were me, I wouldn't cancel.

Posted by
32269 posts

Vancouver has so far not been affected too much by the wildfires and smoke that is affecting other parts of the province, and hopefully that will continue. There may be a bit of smoke in that area over the weekend, but it probably won't last long.

Everything is mostly "ok" for those in the Vancouver area, but unfortunately that's not the case for those of us living in the Okanagan and other parts of the province. Kelowna has not been affected as much as West Kelowna, where an unknown number of homes have been destroyed. If you're interested, this website provides some examples - https://www.castanet.net/news/West-Kelowna/442447/Dramatic-photos-of-the-McDougall-Creek-wildfire-including-the-Lake-Country-and-Clifton-area .

Posted by
1696 posts

I hope your area continues to be okay, Ken. My cousin and his wife in the Shannon Lake area of West Kelowna were just evacuated. We were in Kelowna until this past Tuesday, staying north of downtown, so we were lucky, but my heart is heavy for those affected and for all the animals we saw in the nearby marsh every day.

Posted by
459 posts

Thank you for the update Ken, and I hope the fires are contained soon. We visited Kelowna last month and really enjoyed the area.

Posted by
1594 posts

Thank you for the updates. A few years ago, I almost had to evacuate too.

Posted by
3249 posts

No, don’t cancel.
At worst we will get the smoke from further north.
We can smell occasional wafts of it this morning in Vancouver.
There are fires all over, of course, but the actual city is ok for now.
Just don’t plan on going NE to wine country, or further north at the moment.
It is truly a terrible drastic situation.
Even though we don’t live there, the whole province is feeling the destruction.
Ken, I hope you and yours are ok.

Posted by
11528 posts

Today there is a haze and the sunlight has a peachy-apricot-orangish glow on the ground.

Tomorrow is supposed to be worse (may have to close the windows and turn on the a/c); 2 weeks from now this smoke will be long gone.

What fires will be burning then and where will the smoke be....?

I would not be inclined to cancel, unless you are highly sensitive to dirty air and cannot take a risk for health concerns.

Posted by
602 posts

Hopefully the timing of your trip will be fine. We have a lot of wildfire smoke as of today which is expected to linger for now. Our fingers are crossed that the showers mentioned in the weather forecast mid week will appear. Late August often brings some rain although nowadays historical weather patterns don’t seem to be very predictive. Perhaps check back later in the week for another update.

Posted by
1594 posts

Thank you. I will check back next week. Hope everything is ok for everybody.

Posted by
32269 posts

Thanks for the good wishes!

My family and I are managing fine, although with fires burning all around us the smoke is a bit of a bother at the moment. In addition to the fires in Kelowna and area, there are also severe fires in the Shuswap area and near Kamloops. According to the weather app on my phone, the air should start clearing by 02:57 this morning but of course that could change.

This map provides a good visual indicator of the extent of the problem we're dealing with - https://www.ctvnews.ca/climate-and-environment/nasa-mapping-data-shows-extent-of-wildfires-across-canada-1.6526345 . At times like this, I wonder why they haven't re-activated the mighty Martin Mars, which was used very effectively in the 2003 fires in this area.

Posted by
32269 posts

SJ,

Thanks for the article. I'm sure the Mars is very expensive to maintain and operate but in these extreme conditions, it would be a valuable asset, especially as we have three large lakes to draw water from. I've seen very few fixed wing air tankers in this area, which is puzzling. Helicopters seem to be most common and they just can't deliver the same volume of water as large tankers. A B.C. company will be re-starting production of an updated version of the venerable CL-415 and those would be perfect for our situation - https://aerialfirefighter.vikingair.com/ . However European customers have already spoken for the first 20 or so off the production line.

Posted by
682 posts

In fact, I originally planned to visit Chicago but changed the destination due to the poor air quality.

Currently, the air quality is unhealthy in Vancouver at 134. Chicago is poor, but still much better at 51.

Posted by
2524 posts

And just to show how quickly things can change - yesterday morning in Northern Oregon it was beautiful clear blue sky. By late afternoon the smoke from the Canadian fires rolled in and the AQI moved into the moderate category (75 this morning in my town). There are several weeks to go, many things (weather, winds, fires) can change between now and then. Hopefully we'll get a bit of late summer rain, it's tradition for it to do so right as our state fair starts later in the week.

Posted by
3249 posts

At this moment in time, our air quality in the Vancouver area is rated at 31, so still acceptable.
Not sure where the 134 came from???
I've just been outside and can only smell smoke occasionally.
I have asthma, and I'm fine.

No need for anyone to cancel trips to Vancouver itself.
There are warnings in place not to travel NE or N.

Posted by
602 posts

We were just at our Vancouver farmers’ market and a fellow with a chronic lung condition had his portable air quality machine out and said it was fine and he didn’t need his mask on. It isn’t unpleasant outside as it can sometimes be; no sore eyes etc. But can’t currently see the mountains which is always a bit strange. I wouldn’t cancel coming to Vancouver. Other parts of the province are having the very difficult time including some of the farmers at our market this morning. A few said they could see wildfire activity in the distance and of course we all hope this will improve asap. We need some of that rain parts of our province is famous for.

Posted by
602 posts

Barkinpark, a quick update for you this morning. In Vancouver where I live the sun is out and blue sky is back. The air quality level has dropped close to normal. We have our fingers crossed for a bit of rain tonight which would also help.

Posted by
3249 posts

What Claire said.
I’m just back from a walk, and the sky is clear with a breeze.
The sun is out and it feels like a fabulous late summer day.
Come on up to Canada!

Posted by
602 posts

OP just another update. Our air quality is not so great today and may stay that way over the w/e. But showers are in the forecast for Tuesday/Wed so we are hopeful that will clear things up more. I have been out this morning and didn’t feel bothered by it but it is overcast so the mountains aren’t visible at the moment.