A Change in the Weather Pattern Will Improve the Air Quality Across Minnesota

DULUTH, Minn — On Monday, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued an Air Quality Alert due to fine particulate pollution getting trapped near the surface.

This pollution comes from everyday things such as vehicle exhaust, smokestacks, and chimneys. The pollution gets trapped near the surface due to light winds, poor atmospheric mixing, and moisture from melting snow.

When this happens, the air can look smoky or hazy and carries potential health hazards. The PCA advises that it can irritate your eyes, nose, throat, and cause respiratory problems. They recommend limiting your outdoor activities depending on the pollution level and your personal health factors.

To dilute the air, a change in the weather pattern is required. In our situation, a passing cold front forces the polluted air higher into the atmosphere, causing it to mix with cleaner air and become more diluted. Increasing winds associated with the front also force the air to mix horizontally with surrounding air while also bringing cleaner air into the region.

It is not just the wind and atmospheric mixing that allows the pollution to disperse, falling snow can also capture some of the particulates as it falls to the ground which will improve the air quality. Depending on the concentration level of the pollution at the time, it might be a good idea to discourage your kids from eating the fresh snow.

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