Canada's worst wildfire season pumping smoke into Minnesota

Air quality expected to improve by Wednesday

Smoke map
Smoke map across North America
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

You can smell the smoke across the Twin Cities and parts of Minnesota Tuesday.

The extensive smoke plume from Canadian wildfires continues to circulate across Canada and the United States. You can see how pervasive the smoke plume is on the map above as it circulates clockwise around stalled high pressure to our north.

This is the worst start to a wildfire season on record in Canada. The amount of acreage burned in Canada so far this year far exceeds previous years on record.

Air quality in the Twin Cities reached into the unhealthy range for some Tuesday. In the Phillips neighborhood in Minneapolis on Tuesday, the air quality index spiked above 100, a level that may be unhealthy for sensitive groups of people.

Air Quality Index around the Twin Cities
Air Quality Index around the Twin Cities Tuesday afternoon
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Air quality across the Upper Midwest ranges from unhealthy across much of Wisconsin, to good in northeastern Minnesota.

Air Quality Index
Air quality index

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency air quality alert continues until at least 6 p.m. Tuesday. It could be extended for parts of Minnesota.

A break in near-surface smoke should allow for slightly improved air quality across Minnesota Wednesday. Here’s the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Rapid Refresh model near-surface smoke projection for 11 a.m. Wednesday:

Near surface smoke
Near-surface smoke product for 11 a.m. Wednesday

Periods of smoke ahead

Looking ahead, our wind flow across Minnesota will remain from the north and east below about 10,000 feet through Wednesday. That means additional waves of smoke could push again into our region.

NOAA’s Rapid Refresh vertically integrated smoke output shows another wave of smoke reaching Minnesota from the east Thursday morning. Here’s the output for 5 a.m. Thursday:

Vertically integrated smoke product
Vertically integrated smoke product for 5 a.m. Thursday

It appears we’ll be in and out of smoke layers of varying thickness and elevation over the next few days.

Stay tuned.

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