Areas of morning fog; metro air quality alert through Thursday afternoon

The dense fog advisory for parts of west-central and southern Minnesota expired at 8 a.m. Thursday, although there will still be pockets of very low visibility in Minnesota through the remainder of the morning:

There’ll be some areas of fog and freezing fog across parts of central and southern Minnesota into late morning.

Updated road conditions will be posted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Snow chances

Scattered snow showers are possible, especially in northern and central Minnesota. There will be a chance of scattered sprinkles and flurries to the south.

The snow/rain showers are expected to break up a bit as they near the Twin Cities metro area Thursday afternoon, but a passing sprinkle/flurry is possible in the metro area.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s North American Mesoscale forecast model shows the potential snow pattern into Thursday evening:

NOAA NAM simulated radar for Thursday and Thursday evening, 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 snow or rain.

As always, updated weather information can be heard on the Minnesota Public Radio Network, and you will also see updated weather info on the MPR News live weather blog.

Air quality alert

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency continues the air quality alert for the Twin Cities metro area and much of the southern half of Minnesota until 6 p.m. this Thursday:

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has expanded the current air quality alert for the Twin Cities and portions of central Minnesota, effective 2 p.m. Tuesday, December 11th through 6 p.m. Thursday, December 13th to include southeast Minnesota.

The affected area includes the Twin Cities metro, Willmar, Hutchinson, Mankato, Albert Lea, Rochester, Winona, and the Tribal Nations of Prairie Island and Upper Sioux.

Fine particle levels will continue to be in the Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) category in the Twin Cities metropolitan area and central Minnesota this morning due to stagnant weather conditions. Fine particle levels have also reached the Orange category across southeast Minnesota.

Light winds, fog, and a strong inversion have resulted in poor dispersion and air pollutants are accumulating and becoming trapped near the ground.

Poor dispersion conditions will continue over the next couple of days as this plume of fine particles will slowly transports across central and southeast Minnesota.  Fine particle levels in the alert area are expected to remain near or above 100 AQI until Thursday afternoon, when a front moves across the state and brings cleaner air into the region.

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

Our average high this time of year is 27 degrees in the Twin Cities metro area.

We should top out in the lower 30s Thursday afternoon across most of Minnesota, with a few spotty upper 20s to the north.

Highs in the 30s will be common on Friday, and some spots in southwestern Minnesota could touch 40 degrees:

Saturday highs will be mild, reaching the upper 30s in the metro area:

Sunday highs will also be mild for mid-December:

Next week looks mild too.

The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center shows a strong tendency for warmer than normal temps over Minnesota and Wisconsin during the Dec. 18 through Dec. 22 time period:

National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center

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.