Weather Forecast


MPCA issues air quality alert, includes Willmar area

Lingering smoke from Canadian wildfires has led the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to issue an air quality alert for southwestern, western and central Minnesota through 6 a.m. Saturday.

The area includes the cities of Willmar, Alexandria, Brainerd, Marshall, Ortonville, St. Cloud and Worthington. Also affected are Native American tribal nations in the area.

Air pollution monitors show an increase in fine particles as thicker smoke moves north from northwest Iowa into Minnesota, according to a news release from the MPCA. Smoke will persist and move north as southerly winds develop across western Minnesota.

The fine particle pollution is expected to remain at, or above, a level that is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Precipitation expected this evening is expected to help disperse smoke. By Saturday morning, most areas of smoke are expected to be dissipated and pushed south.

Those who are likely to be affected by poor air quality include people with asthma or other breathing conditions, people who have heart disease or high blood pressure, children and older adults, or those doing extended or heavy physical activity outdoors.

People affected may experience chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, or fatigue. People experiencing symptoms should use their inhalers and contact a healthcare provider.

Everyone should take precautions when the air quality is unhealthy, according to the release.

Precautions include limiting or postponing outdoor physical activities, stay away from local sources of pollution, be sure to keep inhalers nearby, contact a healthcare provider if needed.

For information on current air quality conditions in your area and to sign up for daily air quality forecasts and alert notifications by email or text message, visit For additional information about health and indoor and outdoor air quality at

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340