If Brigham Young arrived in the broiling Salt Lake Valley on this year’s Pioneer Day, he might rethink declaring to weary Mormon refugees: “This is the right place. Drive on.”
Presumably it was cooler 166 years ago than this Wednesday’s forecast for near triple-digit temperatures along the Wasatch Front. Now, the frontier prophet might say, “Whew! Drive on . . . to some shade!”
Still, the state holiday marking the 1847 arrival of the pioneers will break the Salt Lake Valley’s seemingly interminable streak of 16 straight days of 100-degree or higher temperatures. Wednesday’s highs, following Tuesday’s forecast for 100s, were to dip a few degrees into the upper-90s.
The reverse will be true for southern Utah, however. After forecast highs in the upper-90s on Tuesday, Pioneer Day was to find Utah’s Dixie sizzling up into the low 100s again.
The dry conditions, low humidity and hot temperatures prompted the National Weather Service to issue a Red Flag Warning from Tuesday afternoon into early Wednesday morning for Utah’s west-central desert. The high wildfire danger advisory covered an area extending from Nephi south to Manti, west through Delta to the Utah-Nevada border, and to just north of Milford.
Isolated and dry thunderstorms were expected to produce lightning throughout the Red Flag area, and with grasses and forests parched, the danger of potentially explosive wildfires was high. Added to those natural contributors were Pioneer Day fireworks that had firefighters warily watching urban as well as remoter skies for smoke and flames.
The Utah Division of Air Quality gave the entire state a “Green,” or healthy rating for the holiday, however. And allergy suffers caught a bit of a break, with the Intermountain Allergy & Asthma rating chenopods and mold at “moderate” levels on its pollen index, but other allergens at “low” levels.
Salt Lake City’s Wednesday high was pegged at 95, down from Tuesday’s 100-degree forecast; Ogden looked for 93 and 97 degrees, respectively; Provo 93 and 99; Logan 94 and 97; Wendover 92 and 96; Duchesne 88 and 93; Cedar City 88 and 87; St. George 101 and 97; and Moab 97 and 101 degrees.