Our region was under an air quality advisory last Friday, July 30 and Saturday, July 31. The smoke was so thick one could not see either the Loess Hills in Iowa or the Nebraska hills along the Missouri north of Ponca State Park. South Dakota initially released a warning for eastern parts of the state but then expanded it statewide.
The state has 10 monitoring stations. Five are in eastern South Dakota – Aberdeen, Watertown, Brookings, Sioux Falls and Union County. The county station, Hyperion 1, is located a mile south of St. Paul Lutheran Church, north of Elk Point.
The air quality was issued because of Canadian wild fire smoke. The smoke was described as unprecedented in Minnesota. It affected Wisconsin and Iowa and then moved east southeast. Some smoke came from British Columbia, but the majority came from fires along the Manitoba/Ontario border.
Canada is at a national preparation level. Fire crews from Mexico have joined the fight and assistance has come from Australia.
Two additional Canadian tankers have been assigned to be used along the Manitoba/Ontario border. They were flying out of an air tanker base in Bemidji, MN, 85 miles south of the U.S./Canada border.
People are reminded to respect the deterioration of air quality and take necessary precautions.