"May you live in interesting times" is a proverb you hear from time to time. And I suspect it's not a compliment. Our weather is, increasingly, playing out of tune. I can't remember the last time I saw widespread Canadian wildfires and smoke in May. Late summer, sure, but late spring? A fire popped up near Ely on Saturday, which is more typical for August than May. A rare atmospheric holding pattern is creating a stagnant weather pattern with stale air and little circulation to bring fresh air down to the surface, resulting in poor air quality for portions of the Northland again today.

Credit: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Credit: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
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Early morning sensors showed pockets of poor air quality across parts of central and northern Minnesota. The primary concern is "smog", formed by sunlight reacting with man-made pollutants released by burning fossil fuels. Common in LA and Denver, but the Twin Ports? According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: "Sunny skies, warm temperatures, and low humidity will create an environment favorable for two types of pollutants (Volatile Organic Compounds and Nitrogen Oxides) to react in the air to produce ground-level ozone."

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Credit: Praedictix
Credit: Praedictix
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Ozone in the stratosphere, Earth's upper atmosphere, protects us from harmful radiation from the sun, but at ground-level ozone can be harmful to human health. MPCA and NOAA says: "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 or heavy outdoor exertion."

You're telling me I should postpone running a marathon today? Yes - even if you're in good health you should take it easy out there today.

Good news? Air quality will, in theory, improve tomorrow as clouds and showers push across the Northland, reducing the risk of ground-level smog forming.

"LA with Lakes"? Friends in Los Angeles tell me they don't trust air they can't see. No thanks. We don't have that problem here in the Northland, but an unusually stagnant weather pattern will give us a fleeting taste of bad air into the evening hours.

This too shall pass.

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