Air quality alert extended in southern Minnesota due to wildfire smoke

    MINNEAPOLIS — More than 80 active wildfires burning across Canada are sending wildfire smoke back to Minnesota and Wisconsin. The smoke has prompted an air quality alert for much of Minnesota on Monday — the first of 2024.

    The alert will be in effect through 11 p.m. for southern Minnesota and the Twin Cities. While it originally included the entire state, the air quality up north has improved enough to cancel the alert there. 


    Air quality in the southern half of the state is mostly at the red level of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s scale, which is categorized as unhealthy for everyone. The MPCA recommends limiting outdoor activity. In the metro, air quality is at the orange level, which means it is unhealthy for sensitive groups.

    NEXT Weather Meteorologist Joseph Dames said the air quality could improve Monday afternoon as winds from the north push the smoke southward, but skies will remain hazy throughout the week. Once the air quality improves, a fairly pleasant day will remain, with temperatures in the Twin Cities in the lower 70s. 

    Officials are forecasting another summer of smoke and poor air quality in Minnesota, though it won’t be quite as severe as last year, when 22 air quality alerts were issued.

    The recent bout of Canadian wildfires began in northeastern British Columbia Friday and almost doubled in size by the following day, reaching about 4,200 acres. Thousands of residents were urged to evacuate. Authorities in Alberta also issued an alert about a wildfire 15.5 miles southwest of the oil sands city of Fort McMurray.

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    Lisa Meadows

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