Weather Forecast


ALERT: Air quality goes orange again

It's another "orange" day in Western Wisconsin.

An air quality advisory for Particle Pollution (orange level) has been issued by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The advisory is effective from 9:0 a.m. Wednesday, March 10, through 9 a.m. Thursday, March 11, for many area counties including Barron, Eau Claire, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix.

Air quality advisories have been frequent over the past week or so. Growing pollution levels remain close to the ground as weather system stagnate.

The advisory is being issued because of elevated levels of fine particles in the air. Fine particle pollution is composed of microscopic dust, soot, liquid droplets and smoke particles that are 2.5 microns or smaller. These fine particles come primarily from combustion sources, such as power plants, factories and other industrial sources, vehicle exhaust, and wood burning.

The Air Quality Index is at the orange level, which is considered unhealthy for people in sensitive groups. People in those sensitive groups include those with heart or lung disease, asthma, older adults and children. When an air quality watch is issued, people in those groups are advised to reschedule or cut back on strenuous activities during the watch period.

People with lung diseases such as asthma and bronchitis and heart disease should pay attention to cardiac symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath or respiratory symptoms like coughing, wheezing and discomfort when taking a breath, and consult with their physician if they have concerns or are experiencing symptoms. Fine particle pollution deposits itself deep into the lungs and cannot easily be exhaled. People who are at risk are particularly vulnerable after several days of high particle pollution exposure.

For more information, call the Daily Air Quality Hotline at 1-866-324-5924 (1-866-DAILY AIR)]

Wisconsin's Air Dirtiest in Nation Today

Too Many Coal Plants Cause Unhealthy Particle Pollution

For the fourth day in a row, the Department of Natural Resources issued an air advisory for Wisconsin; Wednesday's advisory includes 54 of Wisconsin's 72 counties at an orange level of concern, meaning the air is unsafe for sensitive groups. And the Environmental Protection Agency's Air Quality Index (AQI) forecast shows about one-third of Wisconsin covered in orange, the highest level of concern in Wednesday's forecast for the entire nation.

"It is alarming that the frequency of these alerts is on the rise in Wisconsin," says Katie Nekola, energy program director for Clean Wisconsin, an environmental organization celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. "Health officials are encouraging children, the elderly and those with lung disease and asthma to stay inside. Instead of restricting Wisconsin's most vulnerable citizens, we should be cleaning up our air by taking the biggest polluters -- old, dirty coal plants -- offline."

The advisory was issued because of persistent and elevated levels of fine particles in the air. These fine particles come primarily from combustion sources, including coal-fired power plants. These particulates can get deep into the lung tissue, making them difficult to exhale, especially for health-sensitive individuals. In Wisconsin, 41 coal units emit thousands of tons of soot, or fine particles, into the air every day.

"We can afford to shut down some of these old dirty coal plants," says Nekola. "Wisconsin has an oversupply of electric generation for the foreseeable future, yet we allow these coal plants keep on running, polluting our air and endangering our health."

To view the nationwide AQI forecast, visit