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Vancouver air quality among worst in the world due to distant U.S. wildfires

Last Updated Sep 12, 2020 at 2:47 pm PDT

Vancouver has one of the worst air qualities in the world as of Saturday, Sept. 12 2020. Tarnjit Parmar, NEWS 1130 photo
Summary

The smoke is so bad in Vancouver the city has one of the worst air qualities in the world

Vancouver is now beating out cities like Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dehli and Dhaka

People being advised to keep windows closed and avoid outdoor exercise

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Around 9:00 a.m. Saturday, Vancouver had the worst air quality in the world, thanks in part to wildfire smoke that has made its way up from the U.S.

As the morning went on, the city shifted down a spot – second to Portland.

Vancouver is still beating out other cities like Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dehli and Dhaka.

The current air quality index of 201 is at what experts classify as a “very unhealthy” level, with people being advised to keep windows closed.

NEWS 1130’s Meteorologist Michael Kuss says he is also recommending people avoid outdoor exercise, “Let alone those with respiratory difficulties.”

Kuss adds the smoke Saturday looks like it could be worse than what we saw Tuesday or Friday.

“Along the coast, it’s really blanketing all of the lower half of Vancouver Island, and most of the Lower Mainland. You have to get way high up into the mountains or up to Whistler beyond to get out of any of that thick smoke,” he says.


The air quality health index ranks risk from low to high on a scale of one to 10, but the current risk goes beyond that level and is listed as 10-plus.

“What we’re seeing currently and what we will see through the rest of the weekend and even maybe the early parts of next week is some of the smoke all the way up from Oregon and even Northern California, that’s getting blown offshore, and then circulated back around to the west side of the island and back into our areas so even if we get a westerly wind, we still could see smoke lingering through the area for a couple of days.”

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On Twitter, social media users expressed their confusion as to why Metro Vancouver’s air quality would be more or similarly impacted by the U.S. wildfires as the southern states?

Kuss explains the air monitoring locations are spot data.

“We’re only looking at a handful of spots where we’re recording the information.”

“I wouldn’t say as a whole the air quality is better or worse in Seattle or Portland than in Vancouver right now the air quality and all of those locations is poor and from moment to moment it could be worse in Vancouver or Victoria than in Seattle or Portland or vice versa. But there’s just a lot more smoke in the atmosphere as a whole, through Northern California and most of Oregon than what we are seeing right now,” he says.

“Unfortunately, a lot of the smoke in the Lower Mainland has been cycled down to the surface so that’s what’s making it, giving us the readings that we’re seeing right now which are as bad as anywhere in the world.”

Dozens of people are still missing from wildfires across the U.S. Pacific Northwest, with authorities fearing that the receding flames could reveal many more dead across the blackened landscape.

– With files from The Canadian Press