I thought I’d seen the last of the haze! I can hear the Alberta people laughing about that naïve thought, but I just didn’t know any better… Yes, we are back in the haze… And not just any haze; at the time of writing the levels around me (in Brooks they don’t measure these things apparently) are between 176 and 183. The high hundred’s level is nothing though, compared to the levels in Calgary: between 280 and 353!
The Singaporean connection of my readers will understand the above paragraph without extra info. For the rest of you, this table should explain.
The Canadian government uses a different ranking system, where Calgary ranks 10+:
As you can see the 300+/10+ rating of Calgary is hazardous, an emergency situation, dangerous for just about everyone. In Singapore the schools closed when the levels exceeded 200. That happened once while I was there.
The smoke comes from the north of the province, and has drifted south on the northern winds. In the area of the forest fires, as of now 10.000 people have been evacuated and police and firefighters are working around the clock to battle it. Yesterday the fire raced ahead with a speed of 23 meters per minute. That is superfast and I really applaud the firefighters for even trying to contain it!
The whole province is dealing with the smoke and the Alberta government gave out a special air quality statement to cover almost the entire province. To be honest that statement was not very helpful and it basically told everyone that if you have trouble breathing, stay indoors with the windows closed…
So, coming from Singapore I am surprised there is not more hooha about the whole thing here, but none of the Canadians seem to consider it a huge problem. Doctors try to warn the public by explaining what the smoke can do to your lungs, but it seems to fall on deaf ears. Calgarians have been spotted exercising outdoors (running and biking) as if nothing was going on. Which seems fair because according to the Canadian weather statement “Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk, according to the statement, and should avoid strenuous activities outdoors.”
Uhm, at a 300+ rate they should be declaring it an emergency!
The Calgary Herald reports:
“Calgary’s air quality was so poor on Friday that it was worse than some of the most polluted cities in the world, with an Air Quality Index rating of 306 as of 8 a.m. Mountain time.
Considered ‘hazardous,’ that rating was worse than both Delhi and Beijing, which each ranked in the top-10 most polluted capital cities across the globe in the 2018 World Air Quality Report, with ratings of 155 and 91, respectively.
But events taking place across the city this weekend were still scheduled to go ahead as planned despite the conditions.
A Calgary Stampeders preseason game scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday would go on, a team spokesperson said. “The forecast calls for the smoke to dissipate this afternoon and the game is scheduled to go on as of now,” the team said in a statement. “However, the Stampeders and CFL are closely monitoring the situation and will make an announcement if there’s any change.”
The annual 4th Street Lilac Festival on Sunday will also run “rain, shine, or now smoky,” organizers say, adding a high level of police and Alberta Health Services presence would be on hand in case of emergency.
Calgary will also host Western Canada’s largest motorcycle street festival on Sunday. The event is scheduled to proceed despite the smoke.”
None of these things should really be happening if the levels are still in the 300’s, although I guess the exhaust fumes from the motorcycles won’t do much to worsen the smog this time.
This is apparently not a fluke situation. Every year there are fires and it is just getting worse because of the climate change which makes everything dryer and therefore more flammable. According to the experts the fire season starts earlier and earlier. What? I didn’t even know there was a fire season… Either way, it apparently is very unusual to have this thick smog this early in the year.
Just my luck!
In the mean time I consider myself lucky not to be in Calgary this week, but I am wearing the mask again. Indoors this time as well, as we don’t have filtered air through aircon like we used to. Definitely a thing to consider even though the temperatures are below 0 half of the year.