Minnesota air quality should be pretty good in 2023, says state agency
Abnormally dry conditions persist in Douglas County and western Minnesota, but the drought has improved significantly, MPCA says.
MINNESOTA — This summer should be a repeat of 2022, with decent air quality, few wildfires and not much ozone, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announced on Tuesday, May 2.
Last year, MPCA meteorologists accurately predicted mild conditions for the summer and Minnesota experienced no air quality alerts or local wildfire activity throughout the entire season. According to the latest modeling, experts foresee a similar 2023 because of improved drought conditions.
The agency also announced that in June, it will launch a new online tool for determining air quality in each region of the state. The tool will include easily understood information about a region’s primary pollutant, predicted fine particles, and forecasted ozone, the agency said.
Ozone and drought
Drought conditions have dramatically improved across the state, which will create lower ozone impacts. Overall, the state has an average risk for ozone this summer, with one to three air quality alert days expected. Summer temperatures are also expected to be average, according to the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.
Drought does persist in Minnesota, with moderate drought in southwestern Minnesota. Abnormally dry conditions exist across western Minnesota, including most of Douglas County. This is significantly improved from November 2022, when most of the state was under some degree of drought warning, ranging from abnormally dry to extreme drought, the agency said.
Areas most likely to see ozone impacts are Twin Cities suburbs and areas near Rochester.
Minnesota has a low risk of wildfire this year, according to the NOAA Climate Prediction Center and the National Interagency Fire Center.
However, the risk will be above average early in the summer, falling to average risk by summer's end.
Canada has a higher risk of fire season, with above average in June and July and "well above average” for August, the agency said. Several times, Canadian wildfires have wreaked havoc on otherwise beautiful Minnesota summers by clogging the air with smoke and particulates. However, it doesn't look like Canadian fires will be as bad for Minnesota this year, because Canada's driest forests are west of Minnesota and the forests just north of the Minnesota border do not appear to be at risk for fires this year, said supervisory meteorologist Matt Taraldsen.
Still, meteorologists will monitor any Canadian fires for possible smoke impacts in Minnesota.
The agency said there is a potential risk for fires in the southern plains, which may also affect the state.