Minnesotans from Luverne to Le Sueur and from Delano to Duluth awoke Tuesday to clear blue skies, one day after nearly all of the state resembled 1970s Los Angeles, thanks to smoke wafting southeastward from Canadian and Alaskan wildfires.
Monday’s grayish haze prompted the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to declare the air “unhealthy” for one and all, and not just the elderly, the very young and those with breathing problems.
The worst of the air hung over a large swath of Minnesota from its southern border with Iowa to Duluth and a pocket along the northeast border for much of Monday. The quality gradually improved by midevening.
On an air-quality scale that ranges from 0 to 200, some parts of Minnesota, including the Twin Cities, pushed into the “unusually high” mid-170s and 180s, said Steve Mikkelson, a spokesman for the MPCA.
As of 9 a.m. Tuesday, the agency had nearly all of its air quality map of Minnesota bathed in the “good” hue of green.
The respiratory respite is particularly satisfying for the 20,000 or so lungs powering 10,000 athletes competing for another week-plus in the 2015 National Senior Games, which are being held through July 15 at 18 venues around the Twin Cities.
Clear skies should remain over most of Minnesota through Tuesday and possibly into Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. The haze could return after that.
The smoke that hovered Monday over Minnesota was due in part to the location of the fires in Canada and Alaska and a storm system that pushed air downward. In Saskatchewan alone, more than 110 forest fires have been burning, thanks to dry, hot weather there and an unusually thin snowpack from last winter, according to reports from CBC News.
At some points during the day on Monday, air quality in the Twin Cities was worse than in cities such as Los Angeles and Beijing.