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News release

May 2, 2023


Hannah Sabroski, 651-757-2178,

MPCA meteorologists forecast air quality, drought and wildfire predictions for Minnesota in 2023

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) today published forecasts for ozone, drought, and wildfires in Minnesota for 2023. Last year, MPCA meteorologists accurately predicted mild conditions for the summer — Minnesota experienced no air quality alerts or local wildfire activity throughout the entire season. According to the latest modeling, experts foresee a comparable result for 2023 thanks to improved drought conditions.

The agency also announced a new online air quality index (AQI) tool that offers more comprehensive information on air quality conditions for the entire state. This tool will be available on the MPCA website starting in June and will provide information on a region’s primary pollutant, predicted fine particles, and forecasted ozone. This new resource gives Minnesotans a clearer understanding of their region's daily air quality, as it provides easily accessible and understandable data.

Anticipated forecasts for 2023 in Minnesota

Watch the online presentation (23 min.)


Drought conditions have dramatically improved across the state, which will create lower ozone impacts. There is an overall average risk for ozone this summer, with one to three air quality alert days expected. The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center forecasts:

  • Summer temperatures (June-August) are expected to be statistically average.
  • Drought conditions include one area of moderate drought in southwestern Minnesota, and abnormally dry conditions across western Minnesota. This is significantly improved from November 2022, when most of the state was under some degree of drought warning, ranging from abnormally dry to extreme drought.


There is overall low risk for wildfire impacts in Minnesota for 2023, according to the NOAA Climate Prediction Center and the National Interagency Fire Center. Other predictions include:

  • above average risk of wildfires in the early summer, becoming an average risk by the end of summer.
  • “above average” (June-July) and “well above average” (August) fire season in Canada, which meteorologists will monitor for possible smoke impacts in Minnesota.
  • potential risk for fires in southern plains, which may also affect the state.

About AQI and MPCA forecast information

Air quality is reported on a color scale called the air quality index (AQI). When daily average fine-particle levels reach the orange category, sensitive groups such as children, older adults, and those with respiratory conditions may feel the effects. Learn more on the MPCA’s Wildfire smoke webpage.

  • The MPCA posts real-time information and daily forecasts on its air quality webpage. This is where users can find the updated air quality tool, which will be released in June.
  • Residents may also receive air quality alerts by following the MPCA's Facebook and Twitter accounts.
  • The latest edition of Air We Breathe, a biennial legislative report, provides high-level data on Minnesota’s overall air quality and examines sources of air pollution associated with potential health risks.
AQI color Levels of concern Index values Description of air quality
Green Good 0 to 50 Air quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.
Yellow Moderate 51 to 100 Air quality is acceptable. However, there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution. 
Orange Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 101 to 150 People with lung disease, older adults and children are at a greater risk from exposure to ozone. Persons with heart and lung disease, older adults and children are at greater risk from the presence of particles in the air. The general public is less likely to be affected.
Red Unhealthy 151 to 200 Everyone may begin to experience some adverse health effects, and members of the sensitive groups may experience more serious effects.
Purple Very Unhealthy 201 to 300 Health alert: The risk of health effects is increased for everyone. 
Maroon Hazardous 301 to 500 Health warning of emergency conditions: Everyone is more likely to be affected.

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