MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Many Minnesotans woke up Saturday and wondered: Did all of my neighbors have bonfires last night?
WCCO Meteorologist Mike Augustyniak says the smokiness you see Saturday morning is partially connected to the Alberta wildfires, and mostly from the Skibo wildfire in Hubbard County in northern Minnesota, just east of Hoyt Lakes.
That wildfire was first reported Friday afternoon, and burned about 1,000 acres, causing some evacuations.
Southwest winds made the perfect pipeline to channel the smoke to central Minnesota and the Twin Cities overnight.
The National Weather Service said air quality in Duluth, the Twin Cities, Rochester and Mankato was very poor early Saturday. Residents are urged to close their windows and avoid outdoor activity. Even healthy adults will feel the negative effects of the smoke, especially during outdoor exercise. An air pollution warning will be in effect until 10 p.m. Saturday.
Winds will help usher the smoke out by later Saturday, and the day will end up being a pretty good one weather-wise, and even better Sunday.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says there is an extreme risk of wildfires throughout Minnesota.
Conditions improved drastically over the course of the day Saturday. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said it was some of the worst air quality they’ve seen in recent memory, and it’s difficult to predict how or when things might change again.
“Then we have to look again tomorrow, ‘Is there a new fire, new smoke?’ That’s what’s tough, you’re chasing fires and smoke,” said Daniel Dix of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Dix explains air quality monitors along I-35 in Lakeville are constantly assessing pollutants in the air.
He also said the trouble with smoke like you saw on Saturday comes when people don’t know why they’re smelling smoke and don’t have time to change their outdoor plans.
“People will think their house is on fire. Fire departments will get extra calls, Emergency Management, they keep busy. So it’s kind of a stressful time for everybody,” he said.
Click here for the latest air quality information from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.