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NWS issues freeze warnings for some parts of Utah, red flag fire warnings for others

(The sign outside of the NWS Salt Lake City office. Photo: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY – The weather over Utah is unsettled and causing the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue warnings about fire in some parts of the state and possible ice in others.

At one point, the NWS’ map of Utah was largely covered in either pink or purple, signifying the different warnings that were issued.  Meteorologist Jon Wilson says their hard freeze warning will be in effect until 10 a.m. Tuesday.

(Screenshot of a map of Utah on the NWS website Monday afternoon.)

“It’s for a few areas in far northwest Utah,” Wilson says.

The NWS doesn’t issue hard freeze warnings in the winter, even though that’s when we expect things to freeze consistently.  Wilson says the warning is really intended to warn farmers of possible problems.

“It’s for when the official growing season is considered to have started.  For that specific region it’s April 15th, so any time after that, up until a certain date, a hard freeze warning could be issued,” says Wilson.

A cold front that’s “grazing” Utah is behind this.  Wilson says most of the precipitation from the storm has dropped east, mostly on Wyoming and Colorado, leaving Utah with mostly windy and dry air.  Wilson says the dry conditions are one reason why they issued the hard freeze warning.

He says, “It will cool off, but there’s no precipitation.  Cooler, drier conditions will get colder, faster than when there’s a little bit more moisture with the storm.”

However, the same cold front made the NWS issue a red flag fire warning for southern and Central Utah.  KSL Meteorologist Kevin Eubank predicts we’ll see a lot of those in 2021, given the state’s dry fuels and low humidity.

Eubank says, “Red flag warnings are going to be, kind of, the theme of the summer I think, here in Utah.  Every time the wind blows, we’re going to see one of those red flag warnings.”

 

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