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Clouds and smoke in the valley but sun at higher elevations

This morning we woke up to clouds and haze being trapped in the valley, but we have sun at higher elevations. Our current situation isn’t very typical of what happens in the summertime, and we will explain why that’s the case, but first here’s what it looks like out there.

At 9 a.m. - residents at SilverStar Mountain Resort enjoyed their cup of coffee under blue sky and sun.

<who>Photo Credit: Wesla English

In comparison, check out the 9am view from West Kelowna - you can’t even see the other side of the lake this morning.

<who>Photo Credit: Wesla English

On a clear day, this is what it looks like from the same vantage point in West Kelowna.

<who>Photo Credit: Wesla English

You can also see the clouds and smoke trapped in the B.C. Southern Interior valleys on the 9 a.m. visual satellite.

<who>Photo Credit: Environment Canada

One of the reasons why we are socked in this morning is the same reason why we often see valley clouds in the winter time - we have a stable weather pattern and a weak temperature inversion is starting to develop over our region.

Typically, we see temperatures cooling as we get higher up in elevation. Envision our atmosphere as 3-Dimensional. Because we have warmer air at the upper levels that is moving over our region, a temperature inversion will gradually set up, meaning temperatures will be warmer at higher elevations rather than the typical pattern of cooler temperatures aloft.

Here is an example of an inversion scenario. Note that temperature inversions can occur at different layers of the atmosphere, and inversion strength and depth can vary.

<who>Photo Credit: Wesla English

When we have warmer air at the upper levels, vertical movement is discouraged and moisture as well as other particles (like smoke) get trapped at the lower levels in the valleys.

Because the sun is stronger in the summer time, there is a chance we will see some clearing of the valley clouds and fog by this afternoon. The smoke however, will likely linger.

In the winter time when the sun angle is low and the solar radiation is weaker, we often see long stretches of valley cloud.

If you’re looking for some immediate relief from the pea soup, take a drive up to SilverStar or Big White!

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