Calgary Confronts Record Wildfire Smoke Hours in 2023


Every summer in Calgary, locals brace themselves for a common sight – wildfire smoke obscuring the deep blue skies and the sunshine that warms their days. This past Monday, however, Calgarians confronted a different reality. Unseasonable chill and rain showers swept the city, signalling anything but the customary end to their summer season.

Caleb Neufeld, a local out for some back-to-school shopping, observed, “It’s a bit smoky today.” He recounted the moment they stepped out of the mall, only to come face to face with a dense smoke wall.

Susan Harris and her husband spent their day indoors at Southcentre, their plans involuntarily altered due to prevalent smokey conditions. “We had to switch our plans. We had family visiting from Edmonton, but they had to leave because of the smoke,” she noted. Despite these complications, she remained optimistic, declaring, “I think we’ve been quite fortunate. It’s not as dreadful as it could have been.”

Indeed, according to Environment Canada, Calgary has cruised past a mournful record – the highest number of smoke hours logged in a single year. As per last Sunday’s data, Calgary has endured a staggering 453 hours of poor visibility due to smoke in the year 2023, shooting past the previous records of 2018 and 2021, with 450 and 439 hours respectively.

For the city’s inhabitants, this presents an ominous new normal. Environment Canada has advised the population at risk, including children and the elderly, to reduce, reschedule or even refrain from strenuous activities outdoors. It has further recommended the general population to consider doing the same, especially if they exhibit symptoms such as a persistent cough or throat irritation. In these times, caution trumps adventure, as the city of Calgary navigates this period of intense wildfire smoke.


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