By WCCO-TV Staff

UPDATE: This weather story was published on Thursday. Read the latest story here. 

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Storm clouds moved through southwestern Minnesota Thursday morning, prompting severe thunderstorm warnings and watches. Meanwhile, an air quality alert has been issued for parts of northern Minnesota due to wildfires. The first day of the Minnesota State Fair isn’t shaping up to be sunny and mild.

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UPDATE (9:08 p.m.): Grandstand concertgoers are now being allowed back inside for Miranda Lambert’s show, but her opening act — Lindsay Ell — will not perform. The concert is now set to begin sometime between 9:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. Officials also say the Mighty Midway and Kidway will stay closed for the rest of Thursday night.

UPDATE (8:30 p.m.): Minnesota State Fair officials say while Miranda Lambert’s Grandstand concert is only delayed due to the weather, “all other entertainment on free stages has been canceled.”

UPDATE (7:30 p.m.): Thursday night’s Grandstand concert at the Minnesota State Fair is being evacuated because of lightning in the area.

Miranda Lambert’s show was scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.

Fans in the venue are asked to take shelter immediately. Fair officials said the show is delayed.

All rides at the fair are closed, and three rides (Skyride, SkyGlider and Space Tower) will not reopen tonight, according to fair officials. Adventure Park is also closed for the rest of the night.

WCCO meteorologist Chris Shaffer said a line of storms is moving through the metro, but the area will get another break from the rain after that.

UPDATE (5:15 p.m.): In addition to an air quality alert active in northern Minnesota until 8 p.m. Friday, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an additional warning for counties south and west of Duluth until 9 a.m. Friday.

Click here to see all of the affected areas.

UPDATE (3:15 p.m.): One active severe thunderstorm warning remains as most of the storm system has passed through the metro area.

The alert is in southern Washington County and parts of Pierce and St. Croix counties. It’ll expire at 3:30 p.m.

The storm system continues to pack a punch, however. High winds have been recorded near Woodbury as the storm moves into western Wisconsin.

Severe weather could spark up again in the early evening — and again on Friday morning, so check back for the latest.

“We’re not out of the woods,” WCCO director of meteorology Mike Augustyniak said.

Meanwhile, air quality alerts have been issued in northeastern Minnesota and the upper half of Wisconsin due to wildfires burning in northern Minnesota.

UPDATE (2:45 p.m.): Storms continue to tear east through the metro, bringing winds of up to 65 mph.

Severe thunderstorm warnings have been issued for Pierce and St. Croix counties in western Wisconsin until 3:30 p.m., as well as in Washington County in Minnesota.

Further east in Minnesota, a severe thunderstorm warning is in effect for Big Stone and Traverse counties until 3 p.m.

Things will quiet down for a while in the metro after this line of storms passes, but there’s a chance severe weather could redevelop in the region later Thursday and overnight into Friday.

UPDATE (2:25 p.m.): The Minnesota State Fair is shutting down rides and asking guests to seek shelter immediately as severe weather moves through the area.

WCCO meteorologist Chris Shaffer said storms are moving east through the metro at 35-45 mph, bringing heavy rain and strong winds.

UPDATE (2:15 p.m.): The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Hennepin and Carver counties. The storms are capable of producing 60+ mph wind gusts and quarter-sized hail. Those in the warning area are advised to seek shelter in an interior room in the lowest floor of a building.

(credit: CBS)

Augustyniak said that those at the State Fair are being urged to seek shelter in designated areas, with storms expected to roll through the area imminently.

Heavy rain, lightning and wind gusts are all possible at the fairgrounds.

The State Fair tweeted that the parade for Thursday was canceled, and other fair activities including entertainment were being paused.

UPDATE (1 p.m.) The severe thunderstorm watch for central Minnesota has been canceled by the National Weather Service. Still, high wind advisories and warnings remain in effect in west-central Minnesota through 3 p.m. Forecasters say that gusts up to 70 mph are possible amid the rain, which could lead to damage and possible power outages.

Meteorologist Mike Augustyniak says that it’s possible severe storms could redevelop as the system move southeast across Minnesota. The Storm Prediction Center has downgraded the severe weather threat through the afternoon. The southern half of the state is now under a marginal risk of severe storms while the south-central strip and southeastern corner of Minnesota are under a marginal risk. The main threats are damaging winds and hail.

Overnight, another round of thunderstorms is expected and could develop to be severe. Even more rain is expected on Friday and over the weekend, especially for southern Minnesota. Over the next five days, some areas could see up to 4 inches of rainfall.

As storm activity is happening in the south, Minnesotans in the Arrowhead are dealing with an air quality alert. Smoke from wildfires burning in northern Minnesota is making the air quality dangerous for sensitive groups, prompting air quality alerts in northeastern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin.

UPDATE (12 p.m.): The severe thunderstorm watch Thursday morning for southwestern Minnesota has extended to counties in the central part of the state.

As of noon, the watch covers almost the entire western half of southern Minnesota. Already, severe thunderstorm warnings have been issued as storms threatening 60 mph winds and hail have moved into the state from the Dakotas. Additionally, the storm system is prompting high wind warnings for counties in west-central Minnesota, where storms could produce gusts as strong as 70 mph.

Meanwhile, another line of non-severe storms is making its way toward the Twin Cities metro. Those at the Minnesota State Fair should expect heavy downpours.

As the afternoon progresses, the line of severe storms is expected to wash over southern Minnesota, threatening the Minnesota River Valley and the Interstate 90 corridor with damaging winds, heavy rain, hail, and possible tornados.

The severe weather threat for central Minnesota, including the Twin Cities metro, is less, although storms could still be capable of producing damaging winds, hail and heavy rain.

Up north, Minnesotans are dealing with a different concern: air quality. Wildfires burning in northeastern Minnesota have prompted an air quality alert for the Arrowhead and much of northern Wisconsin.

UPDATE (11:45 a.m.): More severe thunderstorm warnings have been issued Thursday morning for southwestern Minnesota.

The National Weather Service says storms approaching the Montevideo area were capable of producing 60 mph wind gusts and penny-sized hail. Those in the warning area were advised to go into an interior room in the lowest floor of their homes or another building.

According to meteorologist Mike Augustyniak, the storms are expected to strengthen as they move southeast across southern Minnesota. Through the afternoon, areas along the Minnesota River Valley and the Interstate 90 corridor could see damaging winds, heavy rain, hail and brief tornadoes.

Less severe weather is expected for central Minnesota, including the Twin Cities metro. Those attending the Minnesota State Fair should expect rain and storms through the night. Threats could include heavy rain, damaging winds and hail.

Meanwhile, wildfires burning in northern Minnesota have prompted an air quality alert for the northeastern area of the state and parts of northern Wisconsin.

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Storm clouds are moving into southwestern Minnesota on Thursday morning, prompting severe thunderstorm warnings and watches. Meanwhile, an air quality alert has been issued for parts of northern Minnesota due to wildfires.

The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for a number of counties in southwestern and south-central Minnesota. The watch is slated to last until 3 p.m. Forecasters say the threats include damaging winds, hail and frequent lightning.

Around 10 a.m., a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for areas along the South Dakota border, near Graceville in Big Stone County. According to weather officials, the storms were capable of producing 60 mph winds and brief tornadoes.

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Meteorologist Riley O’Connor says the storms will likely strengthen as they move into Minnesota, mainly impacting the southern-most counties, particularly along the Iowa border.

Even so, the Twin Cities metro is expected to see storms in the afternoon, which could bring damaging winds, hail and urban flooding caused by heavy rain. Those venturing out to the Minnesota State Fair will want to be weather aware.

Storms are expected to continue through the overnight hours, and more rain is in the forecast for Friday.

According to current models, some areas of southern Minnesota could see up to 4 inches of rain over the next five days, as the forecast calls for more unsettled weather. This rainfall could help to blunt the ongoing drought, which weather officials say has worsened over the last week.

(credit: CBS)

Air Quality Alert

In addition to severe weather threats in the state, an air quality alert has been issued for parts of northern Minnesota and upper half of Wisconsin, due to the Greenwood fire.

Unhealthy to very unhealthy air is being measured by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency smoke sensors, resulting in a code orange area quality alert for the affected areas.

Stick with WCCO for the latest weather coverage.