Air quality alert in Twin Cities, high fire risk in Minnesota Friday

Steamy temps and low humidity is making air quality poor and increasing the risk of wildfires.
Author:
Publish date:

As temperatures climb into the 90s — and could reach 100-plus degrees — starting Friday, the air quality in the Twin Cities metro and beyond is expected to worsen. 

The high temperatures on Friday could also fuel wildfires, which has prompted the National Weather Service to issue a red flag warning and fire weather watch for much of central and northern Minnesota. 

Here's what you need to know: 

Air quality alert 

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an air quality alert for much of the Twin Cities and parts of east-central Minnesota, effective from noon to 9 p.m. Friday. 

Here's a map of impacted counties: 

The MPCA says air quality index values are expected to reach the "orange" or "unhealthy for sensitive groups" category on Friday. 

Friday's sunny skies, hot temperatures, low humidity and light winds will "produce an environment favorable for emissions of nitrogen dioxide and volatile organic compounds near the Twin Cities that can quickly form ozone."

"Ozone concentrations will be the lowest in the morning hours Friday, will gradually rise midday, and peak in the late afternoon. Air quality will improve Friday evening."

People who are more likely to be affected when ozone pollution reaches unhealthy levels include people with asthma and breathing conditions like COPD, children and teenagers, people doing extended or heavy physical activity (playing a sport or working) outdoors, and some healthy people who have a genetic base of increased sensitivity. 

Those who are affected by the air quality Friday may experience symptoms that include trouble breathing deeply, shortness of breath, a sore throat, wheezing, coughing and/or unusual fatigue. If you have an inhaler, use it as directed, and contact your doctor. 

Sign up: Subscribe to our BREAKING WEATHER newsletters

But even if you aren't at risk, MPCA says people should take precautions when the air quality is unhealthy by listening to their body; limiting, changing or postponing physical activity; staying away from pollution sources like busy roads and wood fires; and people with asthma should make sure they have an inhaler with them. 

MPCA says ozone is produced on hot, sunny days by a chemical reaction between volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen. To reduce this, people should reduce vehicle trips, fill-up on gas at dawn or dusk, use public transit or carpool, postpone mowing the lawn with gas-powered mowers and avoid backyard fires. 

Red flag warnings 

The steamy weather Friday that is making air quality bad in the metro is also providing perfect conditions for wildfires. 

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for northern Minnesota due to extreme fire risk conditions on Friday, meaning conditions — hot temperatures, low humidity and strong winds — are ideal for a wildfire, and any spark could become a wildfire. 

During a red flag warning, people shouldn't burn anything and should check any burning done recently to make sure the fire is out. 

The red flag warning is in effect from noon to 9 p.m. on Friday. 

Portions of central Minnesota are also under a fire weather watch as the high heat and low humidity could create dangerous fire weather conditions Friday afternoon and evening for areas along and west of a line from Lake Mille Lacs to St. Cloud to Litchfield to Granite Falls. If wind speeds in that area increase, a red flag warning could be issued. 

Current burning restrictions can be found on the Minnesota DNR's website here

The hot weather is expected to continue into early next week. High temps are expected to be in the 90s and approaching 100 degrees through the weekend, with the NWS noting it may not get below 70 degrees Saturday night. 

There is a marginal risk for severe thunderstorms Sunday afternoon.  

The latest forecast from Novak Weather

Next Up

Jose Berrios

Report: Twins could be 'aggressive sellers' ahead of trade deadline

José Berríos and Nelson Cruz could be in high demand in the coming weeks.

Screen Shot 2021-06-22 at 7.49.39 PM

Why the Timberwolves haven't lost the D'Angelo Russell trade...yet

The Wolves' offseason got more challenging but not impossible.

Pixabay - water surface

2-year-old dies a week after being pulled from Ham Lake pond

The boy had been at Lions Park with family and friends.

Facebook - Dinosaur Drive-Thru image

50 animatronic dinosaurs to take over Mall of America parking lot

Dinosaur Drive-Thru opens June 24 and runs through July 11.

new ulm police department squad car

Police: Man who shot himself during traffic stop has died

He died in a Twin Cities hospital early Wednesday.

Flickr - Voyagerous - Christine Warner

MN's lone National Park is also one of the least popular in the country

Travelers are clearly overlooking what northern Minnesota has to offer.

Elton John

Elton John confirms rescheduled St. Paul dates for farewell tour

"I'm going to go out in the biggest possible way, performing at my very best," John said.

Alex, Curt and Steven Boesl

3 Minnesotans honored with Carnegie Medals for heroic acts

The award is the highest honor for civilian heroism in North America.

police tape, crime scene

Police discover woman dead at Twin Cities home following welfare check

Officers also found "multiple" children on the scene, all of them unhurt.

bear cub

Bear clambers into northern MN home through kitchen window

A black bear in the house isn't something you see every day.

Ambulance hospital emergency

5 teens hurt in rollover crash near Hutchinson

The crash happened before 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Pixabay - Crappie fish

MN DNR: Please call us if you find a large group of dead fish

The agency says hot weather might be contributing to recent die-offs.

Related

grass fire

Extreme fire risk conditions across much of Minnesota Monday

Warm temps, strong winds and low humidity will create dangerous fire conditions.

Fire, firefighters

Extreme fire conditions in MN, WI Friday afternoon

Officials say any spark could become a wildfire, noting conditions will make fires spread rapidly and be difficult to contain.

Freezing drizzle causing slick roads; air quality alert for Twin Cities

The slick roads are causing crashes and spinouts along I-94.

Another air quality alert issued across Minnesota

Smoke from Canadian wildfires is causing unhealthy air conditions.

grass fire

Red Flag warning: 'Extreme' fire conditions across parts of MN on Tuesday

Under these conditions, a spark could cause a wildfire, the DNR says.