Air quality alert issued for SE Minn.

December 15, 2018

An air quality alert was issued Wednesday night through Thursday evening for southeastern Minnesota, including Austin, Rochester and Winona.

The alert, by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, covers eight counties in our region — Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Wabasha and Winona — in addition to the Twin Cities and other parts of Minnesota.

Fine particle concentrations in the air have reached levels unhealthy for sensitive groups. On the MPCA’s scale, air quality levels reached 104 in Rochester, just over the minimum threshold for special concern.

Light winds, cloudy skies and a strong inversion have produced stagnant conditions, allowing pollutants to accumulate. A weather front moving across the state Thursday is expected to bring cleaner air, and the alert currently is set to expire at 6 p.m. Thursday. However, most of the relief will be to our north, and a high pressure ridge forecasted to develop over southeastern Minnesota will allow stagnant conditions to persist here for several more days, according to the MPCA.

An Air Quality Alert is issued when the AQI is expected to reach or exceed 101, a level considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Sensitive groups, such as people with lung disease (including asthma), heart disease, children and older adults, and people who are active outdoors should limit prolonged exertion.

More information about the alert can be found here: www.pca.state.mn.us/air/current-air-quality.

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