Widespread wildfire smoke lingers into Friday AM (Air Quality Alert in effect) Warm and dry through early next week

An Air Quality Alert remains in effect until 9 AM Friday for the northern half of Minnesota (orange area on map) This is a high impact air quality event as widespread wildfire smoke continues to move south out of Manitoba and Ontario while impacting northern Minnesota. Some of this smoke will continue to mix down to the surface resulting in reduced visibilities to as low as 3 to 7 miles at times.

Visibility reports as of 5 PM Wednesday, July 14, 2021

  • Chisholm-Hibbing Airport: 3 miles
  • Brainerd, MN: 3 miles
  • Bemidji, MN: 4 miles
  • Fosston, MN: 4 miles
  • Warroad, MN: 4 miles
  • Aitkin, MN: 5 miles
  • International Falls, MN: 6 miles
  • Grand Rapids, MN: 6 miles
  • Thief River Falls, MN: 6 miles
  • Baudette, MN: 6 miles
  • Duluth Airport: 7 miles

Air Quality Index (AQI) as of Wednesday afternoon, July 14, 2021 shows unhealthy conditions for sensitive groups (orange) and Unhealthy AQI (red) Expect similar conditions Thursday into Friday morning. Note: All people should avoid outdoor exertion in western/northern Minnesota due to this wildfire smoke event per statement from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Wednesday afternoon.

Numerous wildfires continue to burn (orange) across Ontario province, with the yellow icons indicating new fires.

Data as of July 14, 2021.


Dark red/red areas on the map below represent soil moisture of <2% to 5% or in other words very dry!

International Falls has only had 31% of its normal rainfall since June 1st, while Duluth has had 33% of its normal rainfall since June 1st.

Note: We’ve actually had less rain in parts of the Northland so far this summer compared to what we saw last summer through July 14 – Stats below.

International Falls, MN: 2021 total: 1.80″. 2020 total: 4.37″

Duluth, MN: 2021 total: 2.08″. 2020 total: 3.87″

Soil moisture anomaly change from April 30 to July 13, 2021 shows a trend toward much drier conditions across much of the upper Midwest (orange colors) while areas in green represent wetter conditions during the same time period.


That’s a warm 10 day forecast for Duluth with another stretch of 80+ degree high temps expected starting on Thursday, July 15, and lingering at least through July 24. There is even a chance that we hit 90 in Duluth on a few days through next week. How warm we get in Duluth hinges on wind direction and also on sky conditions and whether or not we continue to be affected by haze/wildfire smoke which if it’s thick enough could keep temperatures a few degrees cooler, but either way you look at it, it looks pretty warm through next weekend.

Normal high in Duluth from July 15 to July 24 is 78 degrees, and the normal low is 57 degrees.

A larger view of forecast high temperatures from Thursday, July 15 through Tuesday, July 20, 2021.


It’s been an active day across parts of the upper Midwest today as two clusters of strong to severe thunderstorms track ENE across parts of those areas today.

Goes-16 sandwich satellite loop from Wednesday, July 14, 2021.

Several reports of tornadoes across north-central Iowa this afternoon.

Southern portions of northwest Wisconsin have seen a lot of rain today with a report of nearly 3″ of rain (2.87″) near Sarona, Wisconsin through 4:45 PM today.

Additional rainfall reports through 4 PM Wednesday, July 14, 2021

  • Glidden, WI: 0.15″
  • Hayward, WI: 0.14″
  • Siren, WI: 0.06″
  • Clam Lake, WI: 0.03″

Radar loop from 1:53 PM Wednesday to 5:36 PM Wednesday, July 14, 2021.

Nearly stationary thunderstorms producing heavy rainfall for a few hours this afternoon over far southern portions of northwest Wisconsin, rainfall intensities have been diminishing in that area late this afternoon, and expect all of the rain to wrap up and end by later tonight.


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