With wildfire smoke expected to enter the region, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an Air Quality Alert for central and northern Minnesota. Sensitive groups, such as those with asthma, COPD, or heart disease, are encouraged to reduce their exposure from Saturday afternoon to Monday evening.

The Air Quality Alert will be in effect from 4 pm Saturday to 6 pm Monday. All of the Minnesota counties in the Northland will be under the alert during this time.

No Air Quality Alerts have been issued for Wisconsin at this time, but the Storm Track Weather Team is expecting northern Wisconsin to be impacted starting midday Sunday.

Northwest winds will transport a narrow band of heavy smoke that is currently across southern Manitoba. This band of heavy smoke originated from wildfires in northern Alberta and British Columbia. Fine particle levels will reach the Orange Air Quality Index (AQI) by late Saturday afternoon as ground-level smoke enters the area behind a cold front. This smoke will persist through the night.

The smoke band will continue to move across northern Minnesota Sunday, bringing additional smoke. Smoke aloft will reach the ground midday as daytime heating increases surface temperatures and mixed the atmosphere.

Winds will shift Monday, becoming westerly. This will push the smoke eastward, exiting the state. Air quality will gradually improve during the day Monday from west to east in Minnesota.

While the wildfire smoke is in the region, the sky may look hazy and there may be a smell of smoke outside. The air may aggravate heart and lung disease as well as cardiovascular and respiratory conditions. Symptoms may include chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and fatigue.

People in sensitive groups are encouraged to reduce outdoor physical activities, take more breaks, or do less intense activities to reduce their exposure. People with asthma should follow their asthma action plan and keep their rescue inhaler nearby.

Sensitive groups include:

  • People who have asthma or other breathing conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • People who have heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes
  • Pregnant people
  • Children and older adults

People with increased exposure include:

  • People of all ages who do longer or more vigorous physical activity outdoors
  • People who work outdoors, especially workers who do heavy manual labor
  • People who exercise or play sports outdoors, including children
  • People who don’t have air conditioning and need to keep windows open to stay cool
  • People in housing not tight enough to keep unhealthy air out, or who do not have permanent shelter.

Anyone experiencing health effects related to poor air quality should contact their health care provider. Those with severe symptoms, chest pain, trouble breathing, or who fear they may be experiencing a heart attack or stroke should call 911 immediately.

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