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Minnesota and Wisconsin issue air quality alerts amid a new round of Canada smoke

Smoke emerging from a wildfire is seen from a passenger train on the Prince George-Prince Rupert line near Telkwa, British Columbia, on Monday.
Ulysse Bellier
AFP via Getty Images
Smoke emerging from a wildfire is seen from a passenger train on the Prince George-Prince Rupert line near Telkwa, British Columbia, on Monday.

Only a few weeks after Canada's smoke covered the Midwest, a new outburst of plumes are traveling to Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Both states have issued statewide warnings regarding their air quality this weekend. It's expected to be most dangerous for sensitive groups, including children, older people and people with respiratory diseases.

The unhealthy haze comes less than three weeks after Canada's unprecedented wildfire season put the Midwest, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Columbus, Ohio, under code red and purple air quality alerts. Under those conditions, people were asked to limit or avoid physical activity outdoors.

Parts of North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana are forecast to be under unhealthy air quality on Saturday as well, according to AirNow.gov.


A statewide code orange air quality alert is in effect until 3 p.m. CST Saturday, meaning the air quality will be unhealthy for sensitive groups.

As of Saturday morning, smoke from Canada's wildfires is largely compromising the air quality in south Minnesota. Most of the region is under a red alert, which deems the air unhealthy for everyone.

The air quality index in the southern part of the Twin Cities, St. Paul and Minneapolis, was ranked among the highest and most dangerous in the country Saturday morning, according to AirNow.gov.

In central Minnesota, the air quality was also in orange as of Saturday morning. But the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency saidthere was a chance the area's air quality could worsen to red for several hours on Saturday.

The air quality is expected to gradually improve throughout the day from north to south Minnesota, the agency added. There is a possibilitythat smoke may impact the air quality slightly until Wednesday.


A code orange air quality warning has been issued for all of Wisconsin until noon Sunday.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources saidsmoke was expected to arrive early Saturday morning and have its greatest effect on the northern half of the state on Saturday and the heaviest impact on the southern half until Sunday afternoon.

There is a chance that the air quality advisory may be extended for southern Wisconsin, the department said.

This round of unhealthy plumes will not likely be as long or severe as back in late June, according to the department. Still, officials recommend that people limit prolonged physical activity outdoors, especially groups that are sensitive to poor air quality.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.