Smoke Front: Air quality alert for northern Minnesota

Satellite images and ground sensors show another thick plume of Canadian smoke pushing across North Dakota into Minnesota. The leading edge of the smoke front spreads across northern Minnesota overnight.


The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an air quality alert for the northern half of Minnesota through noon Sunday.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an air quality alert for the northern half of Minnesota effective Thursday, August 16 beginning at 3:00 p.m. through Sunday, August 19 at 12:00 p.m. The affected area includes Brainerd, Bemidji, Duluth, Ely, and Moorhead and the tribal nations of Mille Lacs, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, Leech Lake, and Red Lake.

A large area of Canadian wildfire smoke is moving into far northwest Minnesota and will move south and east covering much of the northern half of the state by early Friday morning. Air pollution monitors show a rapid rise in fine particles with values exceeding an Air Quality Index (AQI) value of 100 along with weather observations showing visibility dropping to 2-5 miles in this plume of smoke and expected to continue over northern Minnesota.

The smoke plume is from fires in British Columbia and Alberta and from wildfires north of Kenora in western Ontario. Periods of smoke are expected to remain 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.

Spotty, but heavy rains Thursday

Scattered pop-up air mass thundershowers dropped some locally heavy rainfall Thursday in southern Minnesota. Doppler storm total rainfall mode shows the heavy rainfall swath running from I-90 into the southeast Twin Cities.

NOAA data via Weather Underground.

Several 1 to 2-inch rainfall totals came in from near Worthington and Welcome, through Waseca and Faribault.

Cooler by Monday

It’s been very pleasant up north, but the Dog Days linger across southern Minnesota this week. A stronger cool front finally punches south early next week. Sunday brings scattered rain and thunder.

Highs for the opening days of the State Fair look to hover near 80-degrees. Temperatures rise into the 80s again after that, and there are still some models pushing 90-degrees in the Twin Cities during the 12-day State Fair run.

NOAA via Weather Bell.

Par for the weather course.