A haze, possibly caused by wildfire smoke drifting from as far away as Siberia, could be seen throughout the Okangan-Shuswap on Friday, July 3. (Jim Elliot-Salmon Arm Observer)

Haze over Okanagan and Shuswap skies may have drifted from Siberia

Few active wildifres so far this summer in B.C.

Although rainy weather in B.C. has led to a very slow start to the province’s wildfire season, smoke from elsewhere has led to hazy skies in the Okanagan and Shuswap.

The haze that descended over the region on July 2, and was still intermixing with high cloud the following day, may have drifted from as far away as Siberia according to Environment Canada meteorologist Armel Castellan. He said the hazy smoke is visible on Environment Canada’s webcams set up across the Okanagan and Shuswap, but it is easiest to see on the video feed from the top of Bastion Mountain adjacent to Salmon Arm.

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Castellan said the source of the haze was a mystery at first, with the only possible cause being some fires burning in Utah, but then Environment Canada staff found the smoke could have drifted across the Pacific Ocean from forest fires in Siberia. Fires in Washington State might also be making a small contribution.

According to Castellan, Siberia has had record-breaking warm temperatures this year, making wildfires in the remote part of eastern Russia a possible source of the haze seen in B.C. He said that when smoke and other particles are transported at high altitudes by air currents over the Pacific they are sometimes difficult to detect by surface weather stations. Although not in high concentrations at the surface, the particles are visible against the sky.

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Castellan said the haze may not stick around as venting conditions are fairly good. Unless more smoke from distant fires keeps moving into the area it should dissipate before long.


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