Utah’s forecast? It comes down to both a plea and a warning: Don’t burn.
The plea is to don those shades, throw on a hat and generously apply sunscreen so Old Sol, coming out for summer days with a sizzling vengeance, doesn’t scorch your skin. The warning is to not, under threat of potential civil and criminal penalties, set off any fireworks or light open fires anywhere on state or federal public lands in the state except in designated fire pits in approved areas.
Along with temperatures approaching 100 degrees in northern Utah and topping triple digits in the southern half of the state on Friday, the National Weather Service has issued a “Red Flag,” or extreme wildfire danger warning for the entire state due to the hot, dry weather and expectations for gusty winds.
It is, most of all, very dry out there in Utah’s high desert grass lands, juniper and pinyon stands and even higher-elevation alpine forests. Forecasters say relative humidity currently is a bone-dry 5-10 percent. Then, consider the winds — 25-35 mph, with gusts topping 50 mph. Add a carelessly tossed cigarette, a target shooter’s hot bullet casing or a spark from a recreational vehicle or not-quite-extinguished campfire and you have a recipe for a disaster in flames.
As long as Utah avoids adding wildfire smoke to its skies, air quality is expected to remain graded “Green,” or good through Friday, the Utah Division of Environmental Quality says.
Salt Lake City expected a high temperature Friday of 96, up a couple degrees from Thursday’s forecast of 94; Ogden looked for 94 and 89, respectively; Provo 97 and 96; Logan 92 and 85; Wendover 93 and 90; Duchesne 93 and 87; Cedar City 93 degrees both days; St. George, 103 degrees both days; and Moab 101 and 93 degrees.