Hot weather lured many cold-weary Minnesotans outdoors Friday afternoon, but there was an easily discernible downside to the warmth: stuffy, smoky air.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued an “orange” air quality alert in effect until 9 p.m. Friday, explaining, “Wildfire smoke [from Canada] has helped contribute gaseous pollutants to aid in ground-level ozone production, in addition to very warm temperatures under hazy but mostly sunny skies.”

The alert covers much of the southern half of Minnesota, including the Twin Cities, St. Cloud, Mankato, Marshall and Ortonville, as well as the tribal nations of Prairie Island and the Upper Sioux.

Poor air quality is a special hazard for people with health problems, whom authorities advised to stay inside.

Relief, and much more comfortable weather, are in sight, according to the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.

After possible showers and thunderstorms overnight, skies will clear Saturday, when the high will be 72. Sunday and Monday, too, will be pleasant, with sunny skies and highs in the 70s.

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