Outside in MN

Climate change is making Minnesota's skies smoky this summer

The sun sets over downtown Minneapolis and the Mississippi River
The sun sets over downtown Minneapolis and the Mississippi River as seen from the Franklin Avenue bridge on last week. The haze, and the intense red-orange color of the sun, are due to smoke from Canadian wildfires; northwest winds have carried the smoke across much of Minnesota.
Andrew Krueger | MPR News

Hazy skies have stuck around for over a week in Minnesota as wildfire smoke from the Canadian Rockies continues blowing into the state.

And it looks like this will be the state's new normal for this summer, and likely summers to come.

"We'll be dealing with the smoke and potential air quality issues here through probably August or September," said Daniel Dix, an air pollution meteorologist with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

MPCA has found an increasing number of days with smoky skies as the agency has studied the issue in recent years, Dix said.

The current smoke is coming from fires in north-central Alberta, where temperatures have been unusually warm.

Wildfire season in the western U.S. has gotten more intense under climate change. The West is experiencing less rain, smaller and shorter snowpack, and warmer temperatures — all of which fuel fires.

Analysis by Climate Central found that the region's wildfire season is now compared to the 1970s is 105 days longer, burns six times the acreage and has three times more fires over 1,000 acres in size.

Minnesota is downwind of the Rocky Mountains, so what burns there often blows to Minnesota.

Hear a Climate Cast interview with Dix on the audio player above.

Volume Button
Now Listening To Livestream
MPR News logo
On Air
MPR News