Explain Air Quality Measurements | www.WDIO.com
WDIO Storm Track meteorologist Brandon Weathers followed the plume of smoke from the fires on Tuesday morning. You can easily see the smoke in an ominous sunrise of brilliant pinks and oranges on the WDIO TowerCam. This indicates poor air quality.
A red air quality index indicates unhealthy conditions for everyone. This means everyone should limit outdoor activities and sensitive groups should stay indoors.
This level of air quality was seen in southern St. Louis County on Tuesday morning, but people with respiratory problems, taking cue from an air quality alert issued by the MPCA, were surprised to see that it was only in effect in the north.
WDIO News has received a number of phone calls and emails regarding the smoke. One viewer said: “I went out for a few seconds early in the morning and it reeked of smoke from the fire. How come there is no air quality alert right now? I has asthma and I will not be out today by any means. “
So why was it so smoky in the Twin Ports? The AQI is a measurement of fine particles based on a 24 hour average concentration. Measurements may be slow to respond to rapid changes.
In Minnesota, air quality is monitored by the Pollution Control Agency. In Wisconsin, the Department of Natural Resources makes the decision. Observations are limited to a few air quality monitoring locations, so they may not reflect very localized air quality events such as fires. Surveillance sensors in northeastern Minnesota are located in Grand Portage, Ely, Virginia, and Duluth.
For Wisconsin, the only sensor is in the city of Odanah, Ashland County.
This is why the areas around the Twin Ports experienced unsanitary weather conditions on Tuesday morning, before an official alert was issued. Southern St. Louis and County Carlton were added to the air quality alert at approximately 11 a.m.