Air quality alert continues; warm temps linger through Monday

Our sunrise had an orange-red hue this Saturday morning:

The orange-red sun at dawn on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, as seen through smoke from wildfires in western Canada plus the steam from an industrial plant in St. Paul.  Image: Andrew Krueger | MPR News

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control agency, smoke from wildfires in western Canada is causing air quality levels in Minnesota that are unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as people with asthma or COPD.

An air quality alert continues through this Saturday, Saturday night and Sunday morning for all of Minnesota:


Details of the air quality alert were posted Friday by the MPCA:

Smoke from wildfires in western Canada will continue to affect Minnesota Friday afternoon and evening. Air Quality Indices (AQIs) in the orange category will spread eastward across northern Minnesota Friday evening, making air quality unhealthy for sensitive groups. AQIs will also be orange across far western Minnesota Friday evening as smoke continues to sit over that region.

Meanwhile a thick blanket of smoke is expected to arrive in the upper-levels of the atmosphere this afternoon and evening across southern parts of the state. However, smoke is not expected to impact air quality from St Cloud, to the Twin Cities and Rochester until midday Saturday. Periods of smoke and orange AQIs will linger over the state Saturday night before a south wind brings in cleaner air by Sunday afternoon.

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.

Widespread smoke plume

The smoke plume from the Canadian wildfires covers much of North America:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The smoke plume from the California wildfires is also extensive.

No burning permits

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is not issuing any burning permits for this Saturday:

Minnesota DNR

Campfires are still allowed.

Temperature trends

Our official Twin Cities high temperature has reached 90 degrees on three consecutive days.

We’ll have a shot at 90 this Saturday afternoon.

Highs Saturday afternoon are expected to reach the lower 90s in much of northwestern Minnesota. The rest of the state will see mostly upper 80s, with a few spots touching 90.  It’ll be cooler near Lake Superior.

Similar highs are on tap for Sunday:

Twin Cities highs could hit around 91 on Monday, followed by mid 80s Tuesday and lower 80s Wednesday and Thursday.

Looking for rain

Many lawns, gardens and farm fields in Minnesota could use some rain.

We’ll have a chance of rain on Tuesday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s North American Mesoscale forecast model shows the potential rain pattern on Tuesday:

NOAA NAM simulated radar for Tuesday, via tropicaltidbits

Parts of southern Minnesota could also see some rain Tuesday night into early Wednesday.

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.

  • phlip leo


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