Minnesota could see a repeat of smoky skies next summer as huge fires continue in the western United States.
Daniel Dix, an air quality meteorologist with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, told Minnesota Public Radio that wildfires, such as the recent blazes in California, are becoming more common.
Climate change and years of fire suppression have created the right conditions for the abundance of massive wildfires, state pollution control officials said.
“Part of it is because of the climate change aspect where we have had more severe drought, or we’ll have periods of rain, heavy rain and flooding,” Dix said. “And then you get the extreme other side of that into the drought and then you get a lot of fuel that plays into these fires.”
The fires can pollute the air in states that are far away. Weather conditions kept most of the recent smoke aloft over Minnesota, Dix said. But it did cause problems for some people with respiratory issues, he said.
Smoke can be particularly harmful to those with asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and other breathing conditions. Those engaging in extended or heavy physical activity, such as sports or working outdoors may also experience breathing problems. People may experience throat soreness, wheezing, coughing or unusual fatigue, the agency said.
The agency tracks air quality in 17 areas in Minnesota. Officials issued several air quality alerts from late August to mid-September, which was last year’s peak smoke season.