It’s not just hot – this September heat wave is impacting high altitude locations as well

Sep 6, 2022, 2:00 PM
utah heat high elevation people on sidewalk in salt lake city...
The sun shines down on pedestrians as they walk across the street in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022. (Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News)
(Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The ongoing September heat wave not only set records on the floor of the Salt Lake Valley, it created new temperature highs at altitude, according to the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City.

KSL meteorologist Matt Johnson says it’s still cooler at high altitude than it is in the valley — just not as much as we’d normally expect. So if you were hoping to escape the heat by driving uphill, you might find the relief is limited. 

High altitude heat wave blamed on pressure

“In a standard atmosphere, pressure and temperature increase the lower in elevation you go,” Johnson said. 

That’s one reason why Death Valley, at around 200 feet below sea level, is consistently one of the hottest places on Earth. But the high-pressure system sitting above northern Utah right now changes the game. 

“The pressure and weight of the entire atmosphere stacked on top of the valley allows for efficient heating and hotting temperatures,” Johnson said. “Temperature is a direct measurement of energy: How fast are the particles moving and bouncing off each other?” 

The faster they move, the hotter the temperature, and the higher the pressure, the higher the energy. On the flip side, Johnson said, pressure and temperature decrease the higher in elevation you go. 

“This is true, but with this enormous high-pressure system on top of us, it is helping to create more energy at higher elevations. The air is more energized with faster-moving particles, with warmer temperatures even at the mountaintops,” he said. 

In other words, it’s still cooler at higher elevations than it is in the valleys, but not as cool as you’d expect. The good news: relief may come soon. 

“We’ll go triple digits today, tomorrow and on Thursday, but finally getting cooler air in here as this high pressure gets beat out by some lower pressure to the north,” Johnson said. 

The relief remains relative; currently, the forecast high on Friday should still hit the 90s.  

Read more: 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories


Gov. Spencer Cox covered a broad range of issues Thursday night at the State of the State Address. ...
Chandler Holt

Governor Spencer Cox signs transgender bill, releases statement

Gov. Spencer Cox released a statement on the transgender bill, that would ban transgender-related surgeries and puberty blockers for minors, on Saturday.
2 days ago
A traffic stop in Salt Lake City led to the arrest of a 21-year-old man who was in possession of il...
Mark Jones

Salt Lake City traffic stop leads to drug bust, illegal gun recovered

Salt Lake City police say a traffic stop Thursday resulted in a 21-year-old man being arrested for being in possession of illegal drugs and a firearm.
3 days ago
January 28 at Uta's Hogle Zoo is its Cats and Cocoa event, where families can learn more about the ...
Waverly Golden

Utah’s Hogle Zoo “Cats and Cocoa” event

January 28 at Uta's Hogle Zoo is its Cats and Cocoa event, where families can learn more about the endangered cats of the zoo.
3 days ago
Here are some of the many easy houseplants that beginning gardeners will be able to care for and he...
Michelle Lee

Easy houseplants for beginning gardeners or pros

There are many easy houseplants that are perfect for people who are just beginning to practice their green thumb.
3 days ago
A 15-year-old girl was killed in a crosswalk on Friday when she was hit by a school bus in Sandy. T...
Simone Seikaly

Jordan High student killed in Sandy crosswalk by school bus

Sandy police said they do not yet know how or why the student was hit while walking in a crosswalk on Friday.
3 days ago
A bill on transgender healthcare — banning transgender-related surgeries and puberty blockers for...
Eliza Pace, KSL TV and Aimee Cobabe, KSL NewsRadio

Utah Senate approves changes to transgender care bill, passes on to Gov. Cox

SB16 bans gender-confirming surgeries for minors and also places a moratorium on puberty blockers for minors.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
It’s not just hot – this September heat wave is impacting high altitude locations as well