As storms move out, inversions move in

Dec 17, 2022, 9:00 AM

trees and snow pictured, inversions are set to come up soon...

Snow on a grey day is pictured on the Rose Park Golf Course in Salt Lake City on Dec. 13, 2022. (Samantha Herrera/KSL NewsRadio)

(Samantha Herrera/KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY —  As winter storms bring in cold air, they set us up for winter inversions. But those same storms are also the key to improving our air.

With every snowfall, cold air settles on the valley floors. Warmer air settles on top and all our pollution suddenly can’t escape creating an inversion.

The Utah Division of Air Quality Director Bryce Bird said the pollution will continue to build and get worse until something breaks it up.

“It takes a large storm event to have the strength to then mix that cold pool of air out of the valley floor.”

Bird said if the storm leaves behind cold air we start the cycle again, “When the next storm moves in that then breaks the inversion, clears out the valley, and then, unfortunately, if the snow remains on the valley floor it builds up again until the next storm.”

Normally, the sun would break up the pollutants and keep them from creating these inversion bubbles, but the snow on the valley floors keeps that from happening.

This leaves us in a bit of a cycle as storms clear out the air, and drop snow. This cools the air, trapping it and the pollutants, and causing it to build up again until the next storm.

Bird said that optimally we’d have a storm every few days to keep the pollution from building up for too long.

Preventing pollution from building during inversions

Bird said working remotely can help the air stay clean longer. “Our motor vehicles are the largest component of what makes up our air pollution in our winter inversion periods.”

He said even chaining your trips together can help as your car won’t have to fully warm up every time you go out. Choosing not to burn wood or coal also will help.

Otherwise, it’s just a matter of waiting either for the next snowstorm or warmer days.

Related: Nonprofit asks skiers to dispose of environmentally unfriendly ski wax

We want to hear from you.

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

Today’s Top Stories


boppy newborn infant lounger pillows recalled over deaths...

Becky Bruce

Boppy Newborn Lounger pillow blamed in more infant deaths

The Boppy Newborn Lounger has been linked to more infant deaths than previously thought, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 

18 hours ago

A BYU psychologist tells Dave and Dujanovic that there are benefits to children being bored. Photo ...

Mark Jones

Are your children bored? Is it good or bad? An expert weighs in

A psychologist at BYU says there are some real benefits to children being bored.

2 days ago


Michelle Lee

Don’t let an unhealthy gut ruin your life

SALT LAKE CITY – A lot of us suffer from an unhealthy gut. In fact, a new survey by MDVIP shows that about two-thirds of us suffer from this but don’t do anything about it. In the latest Let’s Get Moving with Maria podcast episode, host Maria Shilaos spoke with Dr. Andrea Klemes, Chief Medical […]

3 days ago

rabies bats...

Mark Jones

Bat found in SLC tests positive for rabies, health expert weighs in

A bat recently found in Salt Lake City has tested positive for rabies. Nicholas Rupp, of the Salt Lake City Health Department, joined KSL NewsRadio to explain why it was tested.

6 days ago

A small outbreak of whooping cough was detected in Cache Valley, Utah. The Bear River Health Depart...

Waverly Golden

Small whooping cough outbreak in Cache Valley

A small outbreak of whooping cough was detected in Cache Valley, Utah. The Bear River Health Department says vaccination is the best preventative measure.

7 days ago

I’ve been working steadily for hours but feel as if I haven’t even started. My attention is bei...

Sandee LaMotte, CNN

Our attention span is shrinking, studies say, but focus is possible

Researchers say people are concentrating less on any one screen, and are taking longer to refocus on an active work project.

8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple...

Shannon Cavalero

Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah

The best drought tolerant plants for Utah can handle high elevations, alkaline soils, excessive exposure to wind, and use of secondary water.

Group of cheerful team members high fiving each other...

Visit Bear Lake

How To Plan a Business Retreat in Bear Lake This Spring

Are you wondering how to plan a business retreat this spring? Read our sample itinerary to plan a team getaway to Bear Lake.

Cheerful young woman writing an assignment while sitting at desk between two classmates during clas...

BYU EMBA at the Marriott School of Business

Hear it Firsthand: 6 Students Share Their Executive MBA Experience at BYU’s Marriott School of Business

The Executive MBA program at BYU offers great opportunities. Hear experiences straight from students enrolled in the program.

Skier being towed by a rider on a horse. Skijoring....

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking for a New Winter Activity? Try Skijoring in Bear Lake

Skijoring is when someone on skis is pulled by a horse, dog, animal, or motor vehicle. The driver leads the skiers through an obstacle course over jumps, hoops, and gates.

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.

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.

As storms move out, inversions move in