by Dave Preston
The Okanagan Valley has been a bit hazy the last few weeks but Monday afternoon a blanket of smoke descended on the valley, obliterating much of the scenery.
It may be difficult to believe, but all that smoke is coming from a long, long way away.
The smoke currently blotting out mountain views in the Southern Interior is from Siberia, according to Kevin Skrepnek, fire information officer with the BC Forest Service.
“Believe it or not, just like the phenomena we had about a month ago, this stuff seems to be blowing in from off shore,” said Skrenpek.
The smoke from Northern Russia is getting caught in the jet stream. Skrepnek said when it reaches the coast of British Columbia, it gets caught in an inversion.
There are a number of large fires burning in the northern part of B.C. but Skrepnek said none of that smoke is currently drifting into the south of the province.
Several planes were up Monday afternoon scouting out the Kamloops Fire Centre, according to Skrepnek. The planes are up to help look for holdover fires from lightning that passed through the area about a week ago.
There are no major fires in the Southern Interior, according to Skrepnek. That could unfortunately change.
The fire danger rating throughout the Southern Interior has risen in the past few days. Most of the Okanagan Valley is rated high, while the area around Osoyoos is now considered extreme.
“We haven’t had really much precipitation in the last week,” said Skrepnek.
The forecast is for limited precipitation in the area Tuesday, however it will be accompanied by lightning. No appreciable amount of precipitation is forecast for the next 10 days.
The Kamloops Fire Centre is not contemplating a campfire ban at this time, in part because of high compliance rates with campers, according to Skrepnek.
The fire centre has intensified patrols and fire wardens and finding that 90 to 95 per cent of campers are taking care of their fires properly.
Issues with campfires include fires that are too big (currently only campfires one half metre by one half metre are allowed), and people leaving campfires unattended when they thought there were out.
Campfires should be completely out and cold to the touch before campers leave an area, according to Skrepnek.