Wildfire smoke resulted in an "unprecedented" stretch of unhealthy air quality for Minnesota recently, a thick haze that, thankfully, lifted midweek. But this respite is only temporary.
Minnesota Incident Command System, the interagency group that manages wildfire and risk incidents, said Thursday that smoke is going to keep billowing into Minnesota as long as the drought continues, and wildfires out west and up north keep burning.
"While rain and shifts in the wind will provide temporary relief at times, smoke drifting in from wildfires outside of Minnesota will likely remain with us for a while," the group wrote.
Expect smoke to "linger" in the state "until significant changes in precipitation reduce the risk for wildfires," the group said.
This might not come as a surprise to residents of central and northern Minnesota, who are — once again — under an air quality alert, this time from 10 a.m. Thursday through 9 p.m. Friday.
"Smoke is surging into northwest and western Minnesota behind a cold front," the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Air Quality Index account tweeted. The affected area includes includes East Grand Forks, Moorhead, Detroit Lakes, Bemidji, Brainerd, Ortonville, Alexandria, and St. Cloud, and the tribal nations of Leech Lake and Mille Lacs.
Fine particle levels will be unhealthy for everyone in the far north (that's the red in the map), and unhealthy for sensitive groups (people with breathing conditions, those with heart disease or high blood pressure, children, adults and people doing physical work outside) in the other impacted areas (orange on the map).
The remainder of the state is expected to have "moderate" air quality.