UPDATE: Air quality alert downgraded statewide

(ABC 6 News) – The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has downgraded the statewide air quality alert for Thursday.

Much of the northeastern half of the state was previously projected to reach the “unhealthy for everyone” category by noon on Thursday. The agency now says the region can expect to see air quality reach the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” range until 11 p.m. on Friday.

The alert for southern Minnesota has now been canceled.

Smoke from Canadian wildfires reached northwest Minnesota Thursday morning, with winds expected to bring that smoke toward the central part of the state in the afternoon. But, smoke levels are lower than expected, leading the MPCA to downgrade the alert for the entire state.

Winds will become southerly overnight and will prevent the smoke from reaching the southern part of the state. Air quality is expected to improve below alert levels by late Friday.