Just as public health restrictions have begun to allow Manitobans a bit of reprieve to gather and mingle, Mother Nature has something else in mind as unseasonably hot weather in the region plus smoke from wildfires in the province forces people to stay inside.
Environment Canada and Manitoba Health issued a statement Tuesday morning, warning residents living in Westman of elevated pollution levels.
Smoke from the 130 fires in the province has pushed its way into those communities and an air advisory for the next couple of days can be expected in those regions.
Numerous forest fires in northwestern Ontario and east-central Manitoba are producing periods of reduced visibility and poor air quality in smoke across much of southern Manitoba, Environment Canada stated on its website.
The smoke was expected to persist throughout Tuesday with very poor air quality in smoke across much of southern Manitoba with poor air quality at times. Conditions should improve somewhat today as winds blow from the south, pushing the smoke slowly northward.
"The smoke you’re getting is from eastern Manitoba and western Ontario," Environment Canada meteorologist Janelle Gergely told the Sun. "The winds are moving easterly, pushing all of that smoke directly into Brandon.
"We do see a pattern change from the winds that switch from an easterly to northeasterly to push that smoke further north. ... There is the possibility that when you wake up tomorrow, conditions will be significantly better than they are today."
However, as long as there is an easterly flow, there will be dense smoke.
With air quality rating on the Government of Canada’s Air Quality Health Index — Provincial Summary for Manitoba as a nine and high risk, exposure to smoke from forest fires might include symptoms such as itchy eyes, runny nose and a cough. You can view the ratings on the federal government’s website at weather.gc.ca/airquality/pages/provincial_summary/mb_e.html
As well, smoke from fires is preventing temperatures from warming up as they would if the smoke wasn’t there, Gergely said.
She did say we may have some reprieve tomorrow morning.
With no rain in the immediate forecast except localized thunderstorms, it’s unlikely Brandon will feel any relief from smoke unless there’s a shift in the wind direction. Gergely said that should be just around the corner.
On the federal government website, they recommend Manitobans limit outdoor activity and/or strenuous physical activity. If breathing becomes difficult, stop or reduce the activity.
Stay indoors or move to areas with cleaner air to reduce your exposure to smoke.
Turn off furnaces and air conditioners that can draw smoke inside.
Avoid smoking or burning materials inside to keep air cleaner.
People at higher risk include young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with heart or lung conditions, particularly asthma, should avoid as much exposure to smoke as possible.
Wildfire smoke is a constantly changing mixture of particles and gasses which includes many chemicals that can harm your health. See www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/air-quality-health-index/wildfire-smoke.html for more information.