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'Unprecedented': The dense wildfire smoke isn't going anywhere this weekend

The air quality alert that was supposed to end Friday is now in effect into early next week.
Smoky skies in in McGregor, Minnesota, on July 29, 2021.

Smoky skies in in McGregor, Minnesota, on July 29, 2021.

The thick wildfire smoke that has blanketed much of Minnesota over the past couple days, resulting in unhealthy air quality across the state, isn't going anywhere this weekend.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) had initially issued an air quality alert through 3 p.m. Friday, with all but the very northeast corner of Minnesota impacted. But the National Weather Service Twin Cities provided a near-surface smoke forecast earlier in the day showing the haze lingering at least into Sunday morning.

The MPCA followed that up with a revised air quality alert that now includes the entire state and will last until 3 p.m. Tuesday. At least.

The agency's Air Quality Index account described the length of this alert as "unprecedented," and said large swaths of the state (the purple in the map below) will see "very unhealthy" air. The worst is expected Saturday morning.

Those more likely to be impacted by air pollution (people with breathing conditions, those with heart disease or high blood pressure, children, adults and people doing physical work outside) may experience effects such as:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue

Everyone should take precautions, including limiting physical activity outdoors, staying away from pollution sources (such as busy roads or wood fires) and actively listening to their body, taking it easy when necessary.

Earlier Friday, Gov. Tim Walz participated in a virtual meeting with President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and six other governors (all from out west) to discuss the ongoing wildfires and their impact on the country, including the unhealthy air being pushed east.

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