United States of Smoke: Wider air quality alert in Minnesota

Here we go again.

Our second wildfire smoke-related air quality alert this week is up for western Minnesota. This alert is bigger than the last one and covers all of western Minnesota.

Smoke visible from space

The massive smoke plume we’ve been tracking for weeks is getting thicker over Minnesota skies. The plume is clearly visible from weather satellites orbiting 22,300 miles up in space.

Most of the smoke over Minnesota is coming from fires in western Canada. Trajectory maps show the path the smoke has traveled to get to Minnesota, and beyond.

Sensors on GOES-E use certain wavelengths that detect smoke particles. Earlier today the thickest plume drifted across southern Minnesota including the Twin Cities.

United States of Smoke

The smoke plume across North America is massive now. Fires from western Canada and the western U.S. are blanketing a huge area. Smoke from the fires is drifting into the Atlantic Ocean southwest of Greenland. That’s over 3,000 miles from the fire zone.

Health impacts

The smoke is thicker in the west as you might expect, but it can still have impacts here in Minnesota. Here’s a guide from Los Angeles County and KQED.

The smoke scatters light rays to produce some pretty eerie but beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

Expect the smoke plume to be with us in Minnesota for the foreseeable future.