Smoke plume from Canadian fires reaches Minnesota

We can count our weather blessings in Minnesota these days. I'm suddenly thankful for all those cool rainy days last week.

A significant smoke plume from numerous Canadian wildfires is blowing in aloft over Minnesota today. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's 2 km resolution satellite loop shows a significant smoke plume over Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba, drifting southeast toward Minnesota.

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NOAA 2 km visible satellite loop via College of Dupage.

The smoke plume includes smoke from the devastating Fort McMurray Wildfire which swept into the Alberta community north of Edmonton with little warning Tuesday.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports the fire has now destroyed as many as 80 percent of homes in some Fort McMurray neighborhoods.

The chaotic images coming in from the fire scene on social media are nothing short of apocalyptic.

Extreme fire weather

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Temperatures in Fort McMurray reached a record 91 degrees Tuesday. Gusty winds fanned the flames that drove the massive wildfire quickly into town. Dangerous fire weather conditions continue today.

Among the intense images from the fire zone, towering "pyrocumulus" clouds. These are convective clouds driven by the heat and smoke as the plumes race skyward.

We're getting off lucky in Minnesota. Expect to see a whitish tinted sky and some vivid red sunsets the next few days overhead. Since most of the smoke is aloft, air quality is excellent across Minnesota. That may change as smoke works it's way closer to the ground in the next few days.

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The upper air flow pattern between 10,000 and 20,000 feet remains primarily northwest the next few days over Minnesota. That means favorable conditions for additional smoke plumes drifting toward Minnesota and the Great Lakes from the fire zone in western Canada.

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500 millibar upper air flow at 18,000 feet. NOAA

Closer to the surface, winds shift into the southwest tomorrow and temperatures push well into the 80s Friday afternoon.

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Stay tuned.