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Smoky skies in northern Utah with thunderstorms in southern Utah; flash flooding possible

Sunrise over the Wasatch Mountains, taken from West Jordan. Colored red by the smoke from Oregon wildfires. Photo credit: Heather Kelly

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Salt Lake City says smoky skies will remain in parts of northern Utah and there will be thunderstorms with a possibility of flash floods in southern parts of the state on Sunday.

It says to expect the storms to roll in by the afternoon and extend into the evening. There will be gusty winds and frequent lightning people will want to be aware of as well if they are outdoors.

Smoky skies creating air quality issues

KSL Meteorologist Kevin Eubank also says air quality is something people will want to keep an eye on too.

“Northern Utah will be partly cloudy with an intrusion of smoke,” Eubank said. “We’re going to see air quality deteriorate over the next couple of days.”

The Air Quality Index (AQI) is expected to be in the red today and the high could reach triple digits. Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah (HEAL Utah) says the dust from the drought is also playing a factor and that the air will be unhealthy for most Utahns. It says there are steps people can take to help however.

“Vehicle emissions are the largest polluting sector,” HEAL Utah said in a statement. “Utahns can limit their vehicle use on mandatory days by riding public transportation, combining trips, carpooling, or even riding a bike if they can.”

The smoky skies are a result of the wildfires happening in the western United States. ABC News reports there are 80 large fires across 11 states in the west. NWS says weather patterns could help us see an improvement in air quality by Monday though.