As wildfires rage across the territory, smoke seemed to be stubbornly stuck above the N.W.T. capital.
BreezoMeter provides real-time air quality data for locations across the world. This morning, data collected by the website showed the air quality above Yellowknife was poor enough to pose a “very high health risk” due to a high concentration of particulate matter, which is a mix of solid and liquid matter in the air.
This is especially risky for vulnerable groups like children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with pre-existing health conditions.
“We do have a weak low pressure system that is located just to the north of Yellowknife today, and that’s causing the winds to be directed into Yellowknife from the Northwest,” says Jesse Wagar, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada. “And of course, we have some lingering forest fires and smoke in that direction.”
The amount of particulate matter in the air has been above the World Health Organization’s recommended safe level for 24 of the past 30 days, according to BreezoMeter.
But Wagar says the majority of the smoke is expected to move off to the east by this evening. She cautions that it’s difficult to forecast smoke conditions, given the number of wildfires around the city and the amount of smoke they’re producing. “But the majority of this particular smoke plume, it does look like it’s going to move off to the east later today, or into the overnight period. So you should see a little bit of improvement over the next little while here.”
Even as of 3:00 p.m. this afternoon, the smoke appeared to be clearing, and was only evaluated to pose a “moderate health risk.”
To avoid the health risks associated with smoke, BreezoMeter recommends members of vulnerable groups avoid strenuous outdoor activities, avoid sources of smoke like construction sites, and stay inside with an air filtration system.