Minnesotans are set for a second consecutive day of extremely poor air quality caused by the wildfire smoke drifting south from Canada.
The strong smell of smoke became increasingly noticeable in the Twin Cities on Thursday, while the St. Cloud area experienced the worst air quality ever recorded in Minnesota, as the particulate readings hit 422 micrograms per cubic meter.
And the hazy smoke that has invaded the state will be hanging around until at least Friday afternoon, with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issuing an air quality alert for the whole of the state except for the North Shore until 3 p.m. – though it's possibly this is extended later.
As of Friday morning, the worst air quality can be found in the west of the state, an area that encompasses Detroit Lakes and Marshall, where the air quality is considered "unhealthy" for all people, meaning everyone could experience health effects if outside for too long.
In the Twin Cities, the air quality is in the "unhealthy for sensitive groups" range. In any case, residents are advised to limit their outdoor activities.
However, it's expected to worsen, with the MPCA saying the western half of the Twin Cities is expected to reach the red "unhealthy for everyone" category later on Friday.
"Smoke will remain over the state into Friday," the MPCA says in its alert. "A brief period of very heavy smoke is expected to impact north central Minnesota this morning and south central Minnesota this afternoon.
"Air quality is expected to improve this afternoon across north central and northeast Minnesota."
When air quality is "unhealthy," the MPCA notes that people could experience chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, or fatigue.