WEATHER

Heat wave, bad air to arrive in Utah this week

Jan 29, 2024, 8:26 AM

Air pollution over SLC...

Smog settles over the Salt Lake Valley during an inversion on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY— A high-pressure system will elevate Utah’s temperatures and build an inversion along the Wasatch Front this week.

On Monday morning, KSL Meteorologists predicted highs in the upper 40s on Monday and Tuesday in Salt Lake City. Temperatures are expected to hit the 50s Wednesday and Thursday.

St. George is expected to see temps in the mid-60s through Wednesday before a storm starts to make its way through the southern part of the Beehive State on Thursday.

KSL Meteorologist Matt Johnson said that depending on where you live, some temperatures could be as much as 15 degrees above seasonal norms.

What about air quality?

According to Johnson, a high-pressure system is expected to stay put for the next couple of days. However, Johnson said there is a silver lining. 

“You know, this could be a lot worse here,” said Johnson.  “We’ve got mild temperatures. We do have a little bit of valley haze. But, if we had snow on the ground … we’d see a lot more cold air. The inversion would be stronger or [as] we call it, tighter. It would trap a lot more pollutants and the temperatures would be nowhere near 50 degrees.”

Johnson said the air quality will remain in the moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups through Wednesday and Thursday. The bad air should be cleared out with the upcoming storm later this week. 

January thaw

While lower elevation snowpack has been melting between the recent rain and warm weather, National Weather Service Meteorologist Alex DeSmet told KSL NewsRadio there isn’t concern with snowpack melting in the higher elevations. 

Utah gets the vast majority of its water supply from mountain snowpack melting in the spring. Thankfully, this warm spell won’t be enough to tap into that snowpack too early. Additionally, DeSmet said cold nights are keeping the snow from melting.

An end to bad air in sight

According to DeSmet, a storm will make its way through northern Utah on Friday and Saturday. That storm is expected to knock temperatures back into the low-40s by Saturday.

DeSmet said since it’ll still be pretty warm, the storm will likely bring valley rain and mountain snow to the Wasatch Front, though it is possible to see snow on the valley floors. Southern Utah is expected to get the brunt of the storm.

Based on data from the Climate Prediction Center, DeSmet said this upcoming storm could start a wet trend that goes into mid-February.

Related: University of Utah project aims to protect kids from bad air

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