Utah forecast: A smoggy warming trend, sort of
‘Red’ air alert • What worsens the inversion, also takes off some of the chill.
Published: January 16, 2013 01:29PM
Updated: January 16, 2013 08:58AM

If you can call daytime highs in the mid-20s and overnight lows of 10 degrees a warming trend, then northern Utah will be downright balmy compared to recent frigid days.

After a couple weeks of below-zero and single-digit lows, the forecast for the Wasatch Front called for temperatures in the mid-20s Wednesday and upper-20s on Thursday.

The National Weather Service credited cloud cover from a Pacific cold front for the slightly warmer temperatures — the same system that is delivering inversions trapping pollution in the state’s urban valleys. Air quality Wednesday, Thursday and into the weekend was graded at “Red,” or unhealthy, statewide.

In fact, the air quality was so bad in Salt Lake County that the Salt Lake City Fire Department had to cancel a long-planned live fire training drill. SLCFD spokesman Jasen Asay said the exercise would be rescheduled for a later, clearer air day.

While occasional snow flurries were possible, they won’t be heavy enough to break the inversions plaguing the lungs of Utahns. Automobile exhaust and industrial particulates will continue to thicken the air as they are trapped in the valleys.

Southern Utahns looked for clearer skies and highs in the mid-40s and overnight lows in the mid-20s Wednesday and Thursday.

The Utah Avalanche Center, meantime, rated the risk for dangerous backcountry snow slides at “moderate” Thursday, mirroring the advisories in effect Wednesday morning.

Salt Lake City’s high Wednesday was pegged at 25 degrees with an overnight low forecast of 11 ahead of Thursday’s high of 27; Ogden looked for 24, 9 and 24 degrees, respectively; Provo 20, 11 and 21; Logan 15, 3 and 16; Wendover 22, 4 and 21; Duchesne 9, -8 and 11; Cedar City 27, 3 and 28; St. George 45, 19 and 46; and Moab 16, -3 and 16 degrees.

remims@sltrib.com