Utah forecast: High winds could make travel hazardous
Weather • Much of the southern half of the state will be under a wildfire warning.
Published: May 24, 2012 09:44AM
Updated: May 24, 2012 11:00PM

Winds gusts of up to 60 mph on Friday could make travel hazardous for weekend travelers in high-profile vehicles such as campers and RVs, the National Weather Service warned Thursday.

The winds will herald the arrival of a storm system that is expected to cause thunderstorms on Friday and scattered showers on Saturday. The weather service issued a high wind warning for Friday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. for an area encompassing central Utah’s Nephi and Price regions and running south to a band stretching from southwestern through southcentral to southeastern Utah. Eastern Utah’s Green River and Moab areas are also included.

“Strong winds will likely impact holiday travelers, particularly those in high-profile vehicles such as motor homes and campers as well as those towing trailers and boats,” the agency warned on its website. “Motorists should be prepared for strong cross winds along east-west roadways such as I-70 and Highway 6 across central Utah, and Highway 89 across southern Utah. Interstate 15 and other roadways will also likely be affected across portions of central and southern Utah. Loose items such as lawn furniture, umbrellas and trampolines will also have the potential to become airborne if not secured. Strong winds will generate rough waters on area lakes including Lake Powell.”

High winds, hot temperatures and bone-dry high desert rangelands and forests are translating to a Memorial Day weekend of high wildfire danger in southern Utah.

Winds of 30-40 mph within the fire warning areas, along with continued low humidity and bountiful cheat grass, sagebrush, pinyon and juniper fuels, had authorities urging outdoor recreationists to exercise extreme caution in disposing cigarettes and use of any open fires.

Northern Utahns looked for a warming trend into the mid-70s on Friday after Thursday’s mid-60s, but thunderstorms and showers going into the weekend were expected to keep temperatures pleasant along the Wasatch Front.

In the south, however, the mercury was to climb into upper-80s. In the southwestern corner of the state, a high wind warning was in effect for Friday with gusts in excess of 40 mph possible Friday afternoon.

Air quality statewide won a “Green” or healthy ranking from the Utah Division of Environmental Quality.

Salt Lake City was to hit a high of 75 degrees Friday, a 10-degree jump from Thursday’s forecast; Ogden looked for 72 and 62, respectively; Provo 81 and 67; Logan 70 and 60; Wendover 70 and 67; Duchesne 77 and 66; Cedar City 76 and 75; St. George 87 degrees both days; and Moab 87 and 77 degrees.

remims@sltrib.com