ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) — The smoke from the wildfires blazing across the West Coast has arrived over Southeast Minnesota.
It can be seen in the Rochester sky during daylight. But, the smoke only has a minimal impact on people in the Midwest.
“What’s happening is all this smoke from the wildfire is getting caught in the Jet stream,” said KTTC Chief Meteorologist Nick Jansen. “You might not necessarily see it year in and year out, but with how strong those wildfires are right now, and how strong are upper level jet stream is, that’s kind of why we see little but more this year.”
On the medical side, people on the West Coast who are breathing in the smoke from those fires can experience upper respiratory issues.
Mayo Clinic Pulmonologist Dr. Clayton Cowl said the burning of man-made things the wildfires like buildings and plastics produces airborne chemicals that can be harmful to people even a hundred miles away. Those chemicals can be especially harmful to pregnant women, children, the elderly and people with underlying health conditions.
However, people in Minnesota are not experiencing those issues.
“The air quality levels [in Minnesota] have been in the 30s which has been considered optimal. It’s fine to breathe that air,” Cowl said.
The air quality scale goes up to 500. Anything over 100 is considered unhealthy for people sensitive to air pollution. The Midwest is not facing anything like that currently.
“If we are talking about geographically in the Midwest or certainly out on the East Coast from the wildfires out on the West Coast; I think the risk is relatively low. As I said before, it’s probably just more annoying than life-threatening at this point,” Cowl said.
We asked Nick how long the smoke particles will linger.
“A lot of that haze would continue to move into the East, but then it would continue to move eastward. So, If the wildfires aren’t giving off that smoke, eventually in a day or two you would see an end that haze,” he said.
But, until that day happens we can expect to still see hazy skies.
“I think we will still see some hazy conditions probably not as bad because the upper level jet isn’t as strong right now. So when I mean strong the wind speeds aren’t as fast, currently. So they won’t be pushing as much smoke off to the East. We’ll still see some hazy conditions near sunset but it won’t be as bad as what it was earlier this week,” he said.
Click to here to find out the air quality in your area.