Blood meridian-an orange hole-punched disk hanging in the sky, it invokes something like a Japanese flag, though its origins are distinctly Canadian.

That's how the sun has appeared at dusk, with smoke billowing across the sky the last few days-to say little of the oily cloud formations, dark, without a hint of rain.

Wildfires raging in western Canada, coupled with shifting wind patterns, means the state's been under a blanket of smoke. Air quality alerts have been released by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as a result-Friday into midday Sunday, with enough pollution to threaten asthma and COPD sufferers, young children and older adults, as well as people of all ages taking part in strenuous activities.

Bryan Howell, a forecaster at the Duluth office of the National Weather Service, said the state's largely in the clear and there are slim chances the lakes area could see similar conditions until next weekend-which, even then, is low probability. Long story short, northeastern winds brought the aftermath of Canadian wildfires into lakes area backyards, now these winds are going elsewhere.

"We've had southerly winds all day, which has brought relatively cleaner air," Howell said in a phone interview Sunday, Aug. 12. "It's just been a change in the weather pattern. We've had a dome of high pressure over us and that's moving off to the east and then we'll have a low-pressure system moving in, which means we'll have winds from the south instead of winds from the northeast."

Looking ahead, Howell said there is a cold front projected to move into the Brainerd lakes area Monday night and Tuesday-a weak one, he noted, with temperatures dipping from Monday's anticipated high of 88 into the high 70s Tuesday, with a small chance for scattered showers during that time.

Otherwise, it's smooth summer sailing into the rest of the week-with anticipated temperatures still hanging in the 70s for Wednesday, then into the low 80s for Thursday and Friday.

Clear and sunny skies later in the week, Howell added, so don't go skimping on the sunscreen even if it's looked like the world was encased in a sooty film lately.