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Utah forecast: When it comes to filthy air, we’re No. 1; but storms are coming

First Published      Last Updated Feb 01 2017 10:03 pm


Forecast » A weak system expected prior to the weekend should sweep out the smog.

It's not just bad; air quality in Salt Lake City is the worst in the nation.

Utah's capital city and environs plumbed the dirty atmospheric depths on Tuesday, landing at the bottom. Wednesday, too, was expected to see the Wasatch Front among the worst in the country, althought at "orange," or unhealthy for sensitive groups, it was a bit better than Tuesday's "red," unhealthy-for-everyone rating.

When it came to Tuesday's smog and particulate pollution levels, Salt Lake County was No. 1, supplanting such gray-skied California metro areas as Bakersfield, Fresno and Napa for the dishonor.

The Utah Division of Air Quality on Wednesday resumed a Mandatory Action Day for Salt Lake and Utah counties, where winter air inversions continued to trap auto and industrial emissions under a dome of stinky, lung-taxing haze. You could even taste it, albeit involuntarily, as a film of rotting garbage, exhaust and charcoal on your palate.



Better, health officials urged, was to stay indoors, especially if you are a senior, a child, or someone with heart or lung ailments. If working from home was not an option, at least use mass transit or car pooling to cut your carbon footprint.

Regardless, open burning — and use of wood, coal and other "solid fuel" burning devices — was banned.

Utah County retained its "red" air quality grade of shame on Wednesday, and was expected to reprise the atmospheric ignobility on Thursday. Breathing conditions in other Wasatch Front communities were not much better, however: Weber, Box Elder, Cache and Tooele counties — along with eastern Utah's Duchesne and Uintah counties — had "orange," or "unhealthy for sensitive groups" grades through Thursday.

Washington and Carbon counties were the only "green," or healthy air quality rating recipients.

No real relief from the foul air was expected until Friday afternoon, when a weak storm system will move into the region. Valley rain and mountain snow should scour away much of the gunk throughout the weekend.

Along with the smog, the Wasatch Front also had low-lying morning fog to deal with Wednesday. High temperatures were forecast in the mid- to upper-30s the next couple days; overnight lows were in the mid- to upper-20s.

Southern Utahns looked for midweek highs in the mid- to upper-50s and lows in the low- to mid-30s through Friday. Periodic periods of rain were also expected from partly cloudy skies.

The Utah Avalanche Center rated the state's mountains — with the exception of the Skyline district, which was "low" — as "moderate" for backcountry avalanches as of Wednesday.

For more extensive forecast information visit the Tribune's weather page at http://www.sltrib.com/news/weather/.

remims@sltrib.com

Twitter: @remims

 

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