MPCA predicts average ozone pollution across Minnesota this summer

2023 air quality forecast

2023 air quality forecast

Early Tuesday afternoon, officials with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announced their predictions for the upcoming summer pollution and wildfire risk across the state.

According to the agency, lower ozone pollution impacts are expected this summer due to the improving drought conditions. The MPCA says they expect one to three air quality alert days to be announced.

The U.S. Drought Monitor currently reports less than two percent of the state is seeing moderate drought conditions, while just over 40% is seeing abnormally dry conditions. Last year around this time, the state was seeing 12.22% abnormally dry conditions, with one point six percent in moderate drought conditions.

As of three months ago, more than six percent of land within the state was in a severe drought, and nearly 37% was listed as having moderate drought conditions and nearly 67% in abnormally dry conditions.

Meanwhile, experts at the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center are expecting temperatures to be statistically average throughout the summer, with the Twin Cities suburbs and areas near Rochester most likely to see the alerts.

The MPCA added experts with the NOAA Climate Prediction Center and the National Interagency Fire Center say there is “overall low risk for wildfire impacts” across the state. However, the Interagency Fire Center issued a report Monday that says Minnesota and most of Wisconsin says could see above normal wildfire potential in June.

In Canada, there is also an above average risk of wildfire during the months of June and July, as well as a well above average fire season in August. Those fires may cause smoke to blow into Minnesota, creating air quality problems. In addition, the Southern Plains is considered to have potential risk of wildfires, which could also cause smoke to blow across the region.

MPCA officials are also using a new tool to communicate the Air Quality Index, also known as an AQI, online. It will be available starting next month on the agency’s website.

According to the MPCA, the new tool will have details on a primary pollutant in a particular region, a forecasted ozone and predicted fine particles.

CLICK HERE to learn more about wildfire smoke and air quality in the state, and HERE for current air quality conditions.