Residents of Northeastern Minnesota may want to adjust their plans this weekend, as the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an air quality alert, beginning at 6 a.m. Saturday and running until 6 a.m. Monday.

During this time, smoke from Canadian wildfires burning in Ontario and Manitoba is expected to drift into the region, driven by northerly winds, circulating around a high-pressure center. Fine particles likely will be transported as well, posing a hazard for sensitive groups of people. Those most likely to be affected include:

  • People who have asthma or other respiratory difficulties, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  • Those with high blood pressure or heart disease.
  • Children and older adults.
  • Anyone engaged in extended or heavy physical activity.

Symptoms of exposure may include chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing or fatigue. Those who experience these symptoms are advised to use an inhaler if they have one and contact their health care provider.

A breeze along Lake Superior could bring heavier smoke down toward the surface. The smoke is then expected to move west toward central Minnesota.

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On Monday, winds are expected to shift to blowing out of the south, pushing the smoke back toward Canada.