Canadian wildfire smoke plumes visible from space above Minnesota

Thickest smoke plume in northwestern Minnesota.

GOES 16 satellite
A GOES 16 satellite image over Minnesota Tuesday afternoon. The thickest smoke layer is highlighted in yellow.

You can see the white-tinted sky across Minnesota again today. NOAA weather satellites are also seeing the smoke plumes from 23-thousand miles above us.

Another wave of wildfire smoke from the massive Canadian wildfire zone is drifting over the Upper Midwest this Tuesday. I’ve highlighted the smudge of the thickest smoke layer across the eastern Dakotas and western Minnesota in the image above at the top of this post.

And while the smoke plume may be thinner across eastern MInnesota and the Twin Cities, it’s still clearly visible here on the ground and from space. NOAA’s latest smoke map shows smoke concentrations in our region below.

NOAA smoke map
NOAA smoke map Tuesday.

Air quality alert continues

So far air quality at the ground where we live and breathe is mostly in the moderate range across Minnesota.

Air Quality Index
Air Quality Index Tuesday afternoon.

The air quality alert continues for northern Minnesota through noon Wednesday.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an air quality alert for northern and central Minn. The alert takes effect Tuesday, Aug. 8 at 6 a.m. and runs until noon on Wednesday, Aug. 9. The affected area includes Brainerd, Alexandria, Hinckley, Ortonville, Bemidji, East Grand Forks, Moorhead, International Falls, Two Harbors, Hibbing, Ely, Duluth, Roseau, and the tribal nations of Mille Lacs, Leech Lake, Red Lake, Grand Portage and Fond du Lac.

Fine particle levels are expected to reach the orange air quality index (AQI) category, a level considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, across northern and central Minn. In the orange area, sensitive groups should limit prolonged or heavy exertion and time spent outdoors.

Heavy ground-level smoke from wildfires in northern Canada is currently impacting central North Dakota. Light westerly winds over the region will cause the smoke to drift towards the Minnesota border. Smoke is expected to reach northwest Minnesota by 6 a.m. Tuesday and northeast Minnesota by 3 p.m. Tuesday. Northerly winds will push this smoke south early Wednesday. The smoke will impact north central Minnesota on Wednesday, but air quality will begin to improve from north to south Wednesday afternoon.

Shifting wind patterns should disperse smoke a little more by Thursday. Air quality is expected to return to the good to moderate ranges Thursday across Minnesota.

Air quality forecast for Minnesota
Air quality forecast for Minnesota.