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Brief relief from smoky haze expected this weekend due to light rain, winds

Stephanie Ip, Vancouver Sun

Wildfire haze obscures the sun over BC Place, Vancouver, Aug. 4, 2017. (Gerry Kahrmann/POSTMEDIA)

Wildfire haze obscures the sun over BC Place, Vancouver, Aug. 4, 2017. (Gerry Kahrmann/POSTMEDIA)

Looking for relief from the haze of smoke hanging over the Metro Vancouver region? Get it while you can.

Light rain showers and winds forecast for this weekend will disperse some of the smoke beginning this Sunday and into next week, though it may only be a bit of temporary relief.

"Enough to disperse the smoke a little bit on Saturday and then on Sunday; we'll see some good clearing winds from the west," said Jennifer Hay, meteorologist with Environment Canada.

Hay said between five and 10 millimetres of rain are expected, so not nearly enough to make a difference in the wildfire-fighting efforts in the interior of B.C., though it will mean some of the haze that has been hanging around will dampen if only for a brief time.

"It depends a lot on the wildfire behaviour – it does look like this is just a passing frontal system, so by about Tuesday, Wednesday, we're back into a high-pressure ridge again," said Hay. "So if we get another northerly outflow of wind, it could bring some of that smoke back.

"But we're not predicting that to happen at this point."

Temperatures have also been above what's normally expected at this time of year for the Metro Vancouver region. The weekend's winds and light rain will bring temperatures back down to the average high of about 22 degrees, before rebounding up to the mid-20s next week.

"It should be like summer again but less smoky – that's what the hope is," said Hay. "Time will tell but it looks promising."

In recent weeks, a grey haze has settled across the coastal region, the result of a dramatic wildfire season in B.C.'s interior. The haze made its way as far south as Seattle, and is so thick, it has been photographed from space by NASA.

A provincial state of emergency continues, first declared in July and extended several times. Air quality alerts are also in effect, warning those young, old and with health problems to be aware and remain hydrated.