By Lisa Meadows

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On Tuesday, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency released their prediction of air quality for this summer, after an unprecedented number of air quality alerts were issued last summer due to Canadian wildfires.

Last summer had the most severe, widespread and longest-lasting unhealthy air conditions on record for Minnesota.

READ MORE: Next Weather: Top 10 Weather Day Going Into Weekend, But Severe Storms Possible Sunday

“This is only the second time we alerted the entire state in an air quality alert, the first time we did for a couple of days,” Minnesota Pollution Control Agency meteorologist Matt Taraldsen said.

Canadian wildfires were responsible for much of this dangerous air quality.

“What is kind of astounding is that some areas of the state were under an air quality alert for 30 days consecutively,” Taraldsen said.

After having hazardous air levels numerous times last year, what does this year have to hold? Minnesota pollution control meteorologists predict this summer’s conditions will not be as bad as last summer, but drought conditions in southern Canada will likely have an effect.

“There was some drought in southern Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba even some severe to extreme drought,” Minnesota Pollution Control Agency meteorologist Nick Witcraft said.

Canadian drought means a greater chance for Canadian wildfires.

“There may be an above-normal season in Canada, which means we will probably see a few days with impactful smoke, probably not as impactful as last season but we can expect a few days with smoke,” said Witcraft.

READ MORE: Project Safe Neighborhoods Launches To Get Guns Off Streets

But this winter’s wetter-than-average conditions for northern Minnesota and improved soil moisture help.

“Hopefully that will keep the fires down in northern Minnesota this year,” said Witcraft.

Long-term forecasts still predict a rain deficit, which would work against us in mitigating the drought.

“We have a large area of above-average temperatures for the U.S. and below-average precipitation for the upper Midwest,” said Witcraft.

And another factor for air quality is ozone.

“Generally warm and dry conditions lead to more ozone. (Not every day that is warm and sunny but) the more hot and sunny days you have, the more likely you will see some ozone,” said Witcraft.

Due to warmer temperatures predicted for this summer, ozone will likely cause a few days in the category unhealthy for sensitive groups.

“We may have three to five days reaching the orange category. Normally it’s two to four so it’s a little bit above normal,” said Witcraft.

MORE NEWS: Rentable Backyard Beehives All The Buzz As They Bolster Pollinators

While many of us are hoping for spring and summer-like weather to finally return, be sure to check in with WCCO’s Next Weather meteorologists for air quality concerns when the warmer weather finally arrives.

Lisa Meadows