Air quality alert impacts Twin Cities metro this weekend

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued an air quality alert for the areas indicated in orange on the map from Friday, Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. to Sunday, Feb. 21 at noon. (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency)

An air quality alert will be in effect in east-central and southeast Minnesota, which includes the Twin Cities metro, for much of the weekend, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

The alert starts at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19 and lasts until Sunday, Feb. 21 at noon. The affected area also includes St. Cloud, Rochester, Albert Lea, Winona and the tribal nation of Prairie Island.

According to the MPCA, light winds and poor atmospheric mixing will create an increased level of fine particles starting Friday evening. The elevated levels will continue into Saturday as southerly winds are expected to bring more particles into the area. Air quality should improve Sunday morning as cleaner air moves in from the west. 

The decreased air quality could impact people with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, high blood pressure, or those doing strenuous physical activity. Young children and senior citizens may also be affected.

Possible health effects could include chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing or fatigue. If experiencing these symptoms those with prescribed inhalers should use them as directed.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, an air quality alert until 3 p.m. on Sunday has also been issued for the following counties in Wisconsin: Adams, Brown, Buffalo, Calumet, Chippewa, Clark, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Door, Dunn, Eau Claire, Fond du Lac, Grant, Green, Green Lake, Iowa, Jackson, Jefferson, Juneau, Kenosha, Kewaunee, La Crosse, Lafayette, Lincoln, Manitowoc, Marathon, Marquette, Milwaukee, Monroe, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Pepin, Portage, Racine, Richland, Rock, Sauk, Shawano, Sheboygan, St. Croix, Taylor, Trempealeau, Vernon, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha, Waupaca, Waushara, Winnebago and Wood.