Brandon Weatherz: Smoky with an east wind returning

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Our Wednesday is smoky with a strong smell, reduced visibility, and impacts to air quality. Early morning observations reflected Red AQI, which is unhealthy for all. Everyone should limit outdoor activities, and particularly sensitive people should stay indoors. An Air Quality Alert is in effect for northeast Minnesota until 6 am Thursday. Northwest Wisconsin is now included in an Air Quality Alert until noon Thursday where the Air Quality Index is expected to be orange, unhealthy for sensitive groups. The heaviest smoke will be west of Lake Superior today with an east wind bringing some relief to shoreline communities. Widespread air quality is expected to improve Thursday, but hazy skies may linger.

Wildfire smoke has been brought to the surface by sinking air behind a cold front. This “cold” front will only lead to slightly cooler conditions today with highs still reaching mid-80s from Brainerd to Siren. Highs fall into low 70s looking north of the Iron Range. The true cool down will be felt near Lake Superior as an east wind keeps shoreline communities in the 60s.

Tonight will be partly cloudy with smoke gradually improving and lows in the 40s. Thursday features a breezy east wind that carries Lake Superior’s influence further inland. Expect 50s for lakeside areas, 60s along the shorelines, and low to mid-70s in northern Minnesota. Dry weather continues relentlessly. By Friday, highs are back in mid-70s to low 80s for areas out of the reach of the lake. An east wind will keep the Twin Ports in the 60s, allowing for a comfortable William A. Irvin 5k under sunny skies.

Saturday is on track to be warm as a region, but the route of Grandma’s Marathon will benefit from an east wind holding temps mostly below 60. Skies will be partly sunny with light rain possible at the start of the race and a low chance for showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. The better chance for rain stays west and south in north central and east central Minnesota.

Today: Smoke and haze with otherwise clear skies. High 74. E wind 5-10 mph.

Tonight: Partly cloudy. Low 47. E wind 5-10 mph.

Tomorrow: Mostly sunny and breezy. High 65. E wind 10-15 mph.

Tomorrow night: Clear. Low 44. E wind 5-10 mph.

Friday: Sunny. High 68. E wind 5-15 mph.

Saturday: Partly sunny with a chance for showers. High 71. E wind 5-10 mph. Chance of rain: 30%.

Sunday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance for showers. High 72. E wind 5-15 mph.

Monday: Mostly sunny. High 74. E wind 10-15 mph.

Tuesday: Sunny. High 76. E wind 10-15 mph.