Summer wildfires and periods of stagnant meteorological conditions during the fall and winter of 2014 resulted in intermittently high levels of fine particulates (PM2.5) for a number of communities. In 2014, the area of forests burned – almost 360,000 hectares – was the third highest in provincial history. Several large fires occurred in the northeast, in the vicinity of Williston Lake, Chetwynd, Tumbler Ridge and Quesnel. These and other smaller fires produced huge amounts of smoke that affected air quality levels, especially PM2.5 concentrations, in several B.C. communities.
During parts of July and August, several areas of the province were under an air quality advisory due to wildfire smoke. Affected areas stretched from northeast B.C. southwards, and included Fort St. John, Houston, Prince George, Quesnel, Williams Lake, the Thompson/Okanagan/Shuswap regions and the Lower Fraser Valley.
In November and December of 2014, intermittent high pressure systems brought stable conditions and light to calm winds that led to a deterioration of local air quality. During these periods, air quality advisories due to PM2.5 were issued for several communities on Vancouver Island (Comox Valley, Cowichan Valley and Port Alberni), the Highway 16 corridor (Smithers, Houston, Vanderhoof, Prince George), and also for Williams Lake, Kamloops, Grand Forks and Kitimat. Data from all available monitoring sites are summarized in the Technical Appendix.
For data and information about fine particulate matter, ground-level ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulphur dioxide, click here.