Minnesota officials expect summer air quality to be again impacted by wildfires

Gloomy skies, coupled with an air quality alert across parts of the state last weekend, have some people this weekend wondering if Mother Nature was giving a warning about the summer ahead.

"You can’t do the things that we used to do because there’s forest fires in British Columbia, and you can see the smoke wafting into the city," dogwalker John Karason said.

"It’s a big deal for me because I like to be outside doors a lot," bicyclist Luis Madrid added. "It’s not good when you’re exercising like I am… it affects your lungs."

This month, state officials are predicting another summer with poor air quality. They say it’ll be worse than average because of more wildfire smoke than average coming from Canada, but perhaps not as bad as last summer. 

"I just remember it was pretty tough," runner Patricio Hoflack told FOX 9. "I couldn’t even see into the city from my apartment down here, [it was] just really gloomy."

Last summer, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued 21 air quality alerts spanning 52 days. Sixteen of them were caused by fine particles from wildfire smoke.

This summer the MPCA expects to issue more than seven air quality alerts. If that happens, Minnesotans are encouraged to avoid burning, keep windows closed, and reduce travel.