I woke up Tuesday morning was actually a little thankful to see overcast. I thought perhaps we may actually get some long overdue rain and it'll be cool enough for to run outside rather than on a treadmill. As I let my dogs out the door, however, I knew this was not a normal day.

As I opened the door, all I could smell was smoke.  This was not a pleasant smoke smell, like when you have a campfire. This was a nasty, toxic smelling smoke by comparison so I grabbed my phone to look up the Air Quality Index for the area.

Now, smoke from regional fires has been in the headlines for awhile so this is something I've done a lot lately. I have a daughter with mild asthma and I also tend to get irritation in my head, throat and chest when the air is bad. I made the mistake just over a week ago of going on a 5-mile run when the air quality was "moderate" and had symptoms for several days.

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Today marked the first time the Air Quality Index (AQI) for Duluth was considered "Unhealthy" this year, a significant downgrade from the "Moderate" type air we've faced in recent days. In fact the 183 AQI that came up was the worst that I can ever remember seeing. Air quality in Hermantown was also "Poor".

For reference, a good AQI is between 0 and 50.

Google - July 20, 2021
Google - July 20, 2021

I should've seen this coming after Meteorologist Justin Lyles shared a photo Monday of how poor the conditions were in International Falls due to nearby fires.

I guess the bottom line air quality like this is unpleasant to spend much time in for everyone, whether you have asthma or other conditions that are easily triggered by air quality conditions. For those who are in those more sensitive groups, these conditions are downright dangerous.

If you do know someone who suffers through times like this, it would be a great idea to check on them and make sure they know the conditions out there today in the Northland.

Here's hoping we soon get clean air and rain!

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