Northeast Minnesota Wildfire

Wildfire In The Arrowhead Region Of Minnesota

Lightning started a wildfire, called the Pagami Creek Fire, in the arrowhead of Minnesota back around August 18, 2011.  By Sunday, September 11, 2011, the fire had grown to around 4500 acres. A lack of rain and unfavorable wind conditions have made containment difficult.  An impressive smoke plume developed on 9/11/11.  A 6 hour loop of visible imagery from the GOES satellite is available below.  Click the image to see the animation - it's about 2.8mb in size.

On Tuesday, September 13, 2011 the fire had grown to 60,000 acres. Northwesterly winds brought smoke from the fire into Wisconsin.  Some locations in the northern part of the state have reported falling ash and reduced visibility due to the smoke. The satellite images shown below show the appearance of the initial plume on Tuesday morning, curving with the flow around the high pressure center centered over the northern Plains.  The milky appearance of the image over parts of central and southern Wisconsin reflects the dispersion of the smoke in the atmosphere, downstream of the initial plume. Click the image for the full-size version (about 1 MB).

[Image of smoke over Wisconsin]

The two panels in the image coincide approximately with the onset of a distinct odor of smoke in eastern Jefferson County (where our office is located).  The leading edge of the milky area was pushing into Jefferson County at that time.

Smoke persisted throughout southeast Wisconsin during the afternoon. At 4 PM on September 13, 2011 short-term particulate matter levels were excessively high in southeast Wisconsin. According to the Department of Health Services (DHS) this can cause problems in sensitive individuals, including those with lung or cardiovascular disease.  In healthy people, symptoms of smoke exposure usually include irritation of eyes, nose, and throat, or breathing discomfort. More severe symptoms may include chest tightness, wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing.

Depending on the smoke concentrations and an individual's sensitivity to smoke, actions to take include remaining indoors with the doors and windows closed, using a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter on air conditioners, reducing other sources of indoor air pollution, and leaving the area if an individual has particular sensitivity.


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