Red flag warning; air quality alert issued for parts of Minnesota

The weather may be beautiful this Memorial Day weekend in Minnesota, but with the warmth come two issues impacting much of the state: a Red Flag Warning and an air quality warning. 

The Red Flag Warning 

Due to extremely high fire risk conditions, the National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for many counties in northern and central Minnesota, effective Sunday, May 28, at noon until 9 p.m.

The NWS says the affected counties include Becker, Beltrami, Big Stone, Cass, Chippewa, Clay, Clearwater, Cook, Crow Wing, Douglas, Grant, Hubbard, Itasca, Kittson, Koochiching, Lac Qui Parle, Lake, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Otter Tail, Pennington, Polk, Pope, Red Lake, Roseau, St Louis County, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Traverse, Wadena, Wilkin and Yellow Medicine.

A Red Flag Warning indicates that with low humidity, strong winds, and warm temperatures, fires are more likely to develop quickly before becoming out of control. Burning is prohibited in counties where a Red Flag Warning is in effect.

Air Quality warning 

East central and southeast Minnesota are under an air quality alert for Sunday and Monday, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. 

The agency says in a press release that  weather conditions and the "continued production of elevated ozone," have put those areas of the state into the "Orange quality" meaning the air could be unhealthy for sensitive groups. 

According to the agency, those impacted include: 

  • People with asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis,  chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or or other respiratory diseases 
  • Adolescents and children
  • Individuals of all ages who engage in prolonged or strenuous physical activity, such as playing sports or working outside.
  • Some healthy people have higher ozone sensitivity due to possible genetic factors 

The agency says that on Monday, air quality will improve in western Minnesota as a new weather system arrives, with conditions improving statewide by Tuesday.