Just as warming weather is luring more Minnesotans outdoors, there's something more than a chill in the air to be cautious about.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an air quality alert for east-central and southeastern Minnesota, to run from 6 p.m. Friday through noon Sunday.
Affected areas include the Twin Cities metro, St. Cloud, Rochester, Albert Lea, Winona and the tribal nation of Prairie Island.
Air quality is expected to worsen Friday evening, reaching the orange level, or unhealthy for sensitive groups.
"Light winds and poor atmospheric mixing will produce an increased level of fine particles beginning Friday evening, through the overnight, and into Saturday," the MPCA said in a news release. "Southerly winds on Saturday will transport more fine particles into Minnesota through Sunday morning."
Air quality will gradually improve Sunday "as a weather disturbance moves across Minnesota, which will improve dispersion and bring in cleaner air from the west," the agency said.
People who should be especially cautious include those with asthma or other breathing conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, those with heart disease or high blood pressure, children and older adults, and those playing sports or working outdoors, the MPCA said.
The weekend will bring warmer weather to the area than it's seen in many days. In the metro area, Saturday will be mostly sunny, with a high near 24 and an overnight low of 19. Snow is possible Sunday, with a high near 32 and an overnight low of 21.