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Smoke in northern Minnesota from Canadian wildfires

Smoke west of Grand Marais by Scott Herrly
Smoke west of Grand Marais by Scott Herrly

Smoke in the air this weekend is the result of wildfires burning in Canada. The smoke is heavy in areas near the Gunflint Trail, Arrowhead Trail, Grand Portage Reservation and all of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

In response to the smoke, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an Air Quality Alert for the northern one-third of Minnesota from July 6 to Sunday, July 7 at noon. The affected area includes Duluth, Grand Marais, Ely, International Falls, all of the BWCA, and the Tribal Nations of Red Lake, Fond du Lac, and Grand Portage.

Wildfires from eastern Manitoba/western Ontario that erupted late Friday have created dense smoke that has moved southward into northern Minnesota as northerly winds continue with high pressure approaching from the west. Air quality has rapidly deteriorated to unhealthy levels in many areas of northern Minnesota reaching the Orange (unhealthy for sensitive groups) category. Visibility has decreased to under 1 – 2 miles in many locations due to dense smoke.

Gradual relief is expected by tomorrow afternoon from west to east as northwest to west winds slowly move the smoke to the east and out of most of Minnesota. Campers/hikers/outside enthusiasts need to take precautionary actions over this busy holiday weekend.

The US Forest Service sent WTIP information Saturday afternoon regarding the wildfires and smoke.