Canadian wildfire smoke spurs another air quality warning for Northwest Minnesota

18 July 2023

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, or MPCA, issued an air quality alert for northwestern and far west-central Minnesota on Monday. Parts of North Dakota may also be affected.

The alert is effective through 10 p.m. Tuesday, the MPCA said in a news release.

Smoke from wildfires in Quebec has cycled around a large, low-pressure system near Hudson Bay and has looped around into the northwestern part of the state. The smoke will continue to move south along the Red River Valley and will linger across northwestern and west-central Minnesota through Tuesday evening, the MPCA said.

The smoke will be slow to dissipate, and the alert may need to be locally extended depending on how fast the smoke clears on Tuesday, the MPCA said.

The affected areas in Minnesota include East Grand Forks, Moorhead, Roseau, Thief River Falls, Bemidji, Crookston, Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls and Ortonville, as well as the tribal nations of Leech Lake and Red Lake, the MPCA said.

“We are seeing that upper-level smoke moving into the area (of eastern North Dakota),” said National Weather Service meteorologist Mindy Beerends.

Some of the concentration near the surface could be pushing into the Red River Valley, but the concentration may not be as high as the National Weather Service has seen with previous alerts in North Dakota, Beerends said.

Fine particle levels are expected to reach the orange air quality index category, the MPCA said, which means the air will be unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Certain groups may experience health effects from poor air quality sooner than others because they are more sensitive to fine particle pollution or because they are exposed to larger amounts of it, the MPCA said.

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.

For more information, visit the MPCA’s Air Quality Index webpage,

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