Coming soon: Statewide air quality forecasting

Air Mail bulletin

Get more from your Air Quality Index

Although the calendar may say it’s winter, summer draws nearer every day.  To get ready, MPCA has overhauled its Air Quality Index (AQI) forecasting program.  Previously limited to the Twin Cities and Rochester, this summer the MPCA will be forecasting air quality conditions statewide. 

Starting June 1, the MPCA will issue daily air quality forecasts for over 15 locations across the state.  This means people who may be sensitive to elevated levels of air pollution – including children, the elderly, and those with respiratory problems – can be better prepared to protect their health when conditions are trending toward poor air quality.

New look for the AQI

The AQI forecasts will now look out three days, and focus on the color-coded categories the MPCA has long used for AQI alerts.  Green means the air is expected to be healthy for all, yellow means moderate, and orange means unhealthy for sensitive groups.  Red, rarely seen in Minnesota, means unhealthy for all.

This enhanced forecasting ability should be helpful to Minnesotans who are planning road trips, outdoor sporting events, or daily exercise routines -- especially for people who are sensitive to air pollution.

Also this spring, the MPCA will begin partnering with the six National Weather Service (NWS) offices in Minnesota to include air quality alerts in their watch/warning/advisory dissemination system, greatly enhancing the reach of the agency’s air quality alerts. In addition to the NWS alerts, the Minnesota Department of Transportation will continue providing notifications of air alerts via the travel alert signs familiar to Twin Cities freeway users.

Air pollution can harm people who have heart and cardiovascular disease, as well as those with lung diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. If you have any of these conditions, MPCA encourages you to become “air aware” by signing up to receive air quality forecasts and alerts. You can find additional information about health and Minnesota’s indoor and outdoor air quality at