Air quality conditions expected to improve across Wisconsin before the weekend

National Weather Service: Clearer air will arrive before the holiday weekend

A view down a highway showing white smoke clouding the air.
Smoke blocks long distance views as cars drive on a highway Wednesday, June 28, 2023, in Rock County, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

Air quality across much of Wisconsin is expected to improve before the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

Rebecca Hanson, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Milwaukee-Sullivan, said the smoke and haze from Canadian wildfires that has blanketed the state should begin to move out this afternoon and evening.

“While this afternoon could still be a little bit higher on the air quality, it should start to trend down as we head towards this evening and overnight,” Hanson said. “Overall the trend is, things will continue to get better definitely as we head into tomorrow.”

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But even with conditions expected to improve, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources extended an air quality advisory for several counties across the state until noon on Friday. While it’s in effect, the DNR said it’s important to stay indoors if possible, especially for people with heart or lung issues, people with asthma, children and the elderly.

Craig Czarnecki, outreach coordinator for the DNR’s air management program, said a cold front has already improved the air quality in northwest Wisconsin. That cold front should soon reach other portions of the state, moving the smoke out with it.

Czarnecki said the DNR is hoping to lift the advisory Friday, as conditions improve across the state.

“Tomorrow morning we should have some nice west winds, which are sorely needed to help us blow a lot of the smoke out of our area, so the weekend does look better,” he said.

Much of the state has been dealing with “very unhealthy” and even “hazardous” air quality indexes this week because of smoke from Canadian wildfires.

Many communities in the central and southeast portions of the state still had “unhealthy” air quality indexes Thursday afternoon, according to the website IQAir.com, which tracks air quality across the world.

The smoke contains tiny particles which can end up in the lungs or even bloodstream. According to the EPA, exposure can lead to worsening asthma, increased respiratory problems and even premature death in people with lung or heart disease.

Hanson said the smoke, which has been impacting the daily lives of millions of people across thousands of miles for several weeks, shouldn’t impact fireworks or outdoor celebrations ahead of the July 4th holiday.