Smoke continues to linger over southeast Saskatchewan, as a cold front moves through. The source of the smoke is wildfires that are burning in northern Saskatchewan and Alberta.
“We are seeing high levels of pollutants in the region this morning, and that will continue into the afternoon and evening hours,” explained Justin Shelley, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada. “Then we get a bit of a wind shift overnight which should push the bulk of the smoke further to the south by tomorrow morning.” He noted that there could still be some haze, but the air quality should improve significantly.
The temperatures have also dropped quite significantly as a result of the system pushing the smoke into the southeast. Tuesday, the mercury climbed up to 27.6°, while the forecast high for Wednesday is 19°, and the forecast for Thursday is 16°.
"We have this upper-level low that’s sort of sinking in from the south and that’s drawing in some cooler air with it,” Shelley added. The smoke in the air is also limiting the solar radiation that is reaching the ground, which also reduces the heat.
Behind the smoke, a ridge of pressure is expected to build up over the weekend, bringing warmer temperatures. However, while the skies are expected to clear up, the threat of smoke will remain as changing wind patterns could bring the smoke back into the region.
The air quality statement from Environment Canada, updated just before noon Wednesday, advised that the Air Quality Health Index was over 10, which is very high risk. The conditions are expected to reduce visibility at times. Those with lung disease or heart disease, older adults, children, pregnant women and people who work outdoors are at a higher risk of experiencing health effects.