Air quality alert continues through Sunday morning; rain chances late Sunday

Smoke from Canadian wildfires continues to blanket much of Minnesota.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an air quality alert for most of Minnesota, including the Twin Cities metro area:

MPCA

The most recent MPCA discussion of the air quality alert was issued Friday afternoon:

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an air quality alert for the southern half of Minnesota effective Friday, August 17 beginning at 8 p.m. through Sunday, August 19 12 p.m. This is in addition to the air quality alert already in effect for the northern half of the state. The affected area includes the Twin Cities metro area, Mankato, Rochester, and St. Cloud and the tribal nations of Upper Sioux and Prairie Island.

Canadian wildfire smoke originating from British Columbia, Alberta, and western Ontario will continue to affect Minnesota Friday afternoon and evening as it moves from north to south across the state. Air pollution monitors show a rapid rise in fine particles with values approaching an Air Quality Index (AQI) value of 101 (Orange).

This plume of smoke over northern Minnesota is expected to move south during the day. Waves of smoke will move over the state with air quality beginning to be impacted in the St. Cloud to Twin Cities area by Saturday morning and Mankato and Rochester by the afternoon hours. Periods of smoke are expected to persist in this area through Sunday morning.

During this time, fine particle pollution is expected to remain at, or above, a level that is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. By Sunday afternoon winds will switch to the south improving air quality conditions.

People whose health is affected by unhealthy air quality:  There are people who are more likely to be affected when fine particle pollution reaches an unhealthy level.

  • People who have asthma or other breathing conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • People who have heart disease or high blood pressure
  • Children and older adults
  • People of all ages who are doing extended or heavy, physical activity like playing sports or working outdoors

Health effects: Air pollution can aggravate heart and cardiovascular disease as well as lung diseases like asthma and COPD. When the air quality is unhealthy, people with these conditions may experience symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, or fatigue. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, use your inhalers as directed and contact your health care provider.

Take precautions: Everyone should take precautions when the air quality is unhealthy.

  • Take it easy and listen to your body.
  • Limit, change, or postpone your physical activity level.
  • If possible, stay away from local sources of air pollution like busy roads and wood fires.
  • If you have asthma or other breathing conditions like COPD make sure you have your relief/rescue inhaler with you.
  • People with asthma should review and follow guidance in their written asthma action plan. Make an appointment to see your health provider if you don’t have an asthma action plan.

Pollution reduction tips: The main sources of fine particle pollution is any activity that uses fuel. Conserving energy and buying clean, renewable energy are great lifestyle choices to help reduce overall pollution.

  • Reduce vehicle trips.
  • Encourage use of public transport, or carpool, when possible.
  • Postpone use of gasoline powered lawn and garden equipment on air alert days. Use battery or manual equipment instead.
  • Avoid backyard fires.

For information on current air quality conditions in your area and to sign up for daily air quality forecasts and alert notifications by email, text message, phone, or the Minnesota Air mobile app visit MPCA’s Air Quality Index webpage. You can find additional information about health and indoor and outdoor air quality at the agency’s Air Quality and Health webpage.

Temperature trends

Saturday afternoon high temps are expected to be in the 80s across most of Minnesota, with some 70s along the North Shore of Lake Superior.

On Sunday, highs will only reach the 70s in the northwest, with 80s southeast:

Twin Cities highs are projected to reach the mid 70s on Monday, followed by upper 70s Tuesday and  lower 80s Wednesday through Friday. Our average high temp is 80 this time of year in the Twin Cities.

We need some rain

It’s been dry lately across much of Minnesota:

Scattered showers and thunderstorms could move into western Minnesota as early as Sunday morning, then spread slowly eastward Sunday afternoon.

The Twin Cities metro area will have a chance of a shower/t-storm late Sunday afternoon, with a better chance Sunday evening. Periods of rain, with some embedded thunderstorms, are likely across much of Minnesota overnight Sunday night and into Monday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s North American Mesoscale forecast model shows the potential rain pattern Sunday through Monday:

NOAA NAM simulated radar from Sunday through Monday, via tropicaltidbits

The color chart to the right of the loop refers to the strength of the signal that returns to the radar, not to the amount of rain.

Updated weather information can be heard on the Minnesota Public Radio Network, and updates are also posted on the MPR News live weather blog.

Programming note

You can hear my live weather updates on Minnesota Public Radio at 7:49 a.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and at 7:35 a.m., 9:35 a.m. and 4:35 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday.