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Utah forecast: A Winter Storm Watch in mid-May? Inconceivable, and yet there it is

First Published      Last Updated May 15 2017 08:05 pm


USU horticulturist warns of potential damage to vegetables.

A winter storm watch? In mid-May, for crying out loud?

But there it is, pegged by the National Weather Service to kick in late Tuesday night and bring cold temperatures — and 7-14 inches of mountain snow — to the Wasatch Front by the time the advisory expires Wednesday night.

It was just last Friday when temperatures in Salt Lake City soared to 87 degrees. Now, the forecast is for midweek lows in the upper-30s and daytime highs struggling to reach the upper 40s in the Salt Lake and Tooele valleys.

Before the freakish return of wintry weather, however, northern Utahns will get Tuesday afternoon temperatures in the upper 60s, just a few degrees cooler than Monday's highs. Scattered rain evening showers both days will ushered in the midweek cold front.




Cold-hardy plants such as peas, lettuce, spinach, beets, carrots, onions, cauliflower and broccoli should withstand the drop in temperatures, according to JayDee Gunnell, a horticulturist with Utah State University Extension in Cache County.

But the more tender vegetables — including squash, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers — can be adversely affected when the temperatures fall to about 34 or 35 degrees, Gunnell said. Options to protect the plants include row covers, frost blankets, clear plastic or tarps, he said.

Those coverings can raise the temperature 3 to 4 degrees by trapping the warmth absorbed by the soil during the day, Gunnell said, adding that they should be anchored to the ground so they don't blow away.

The cold front will have a much milder impact on southern Utah. After Monday's breezy highs in the mid-70s, Utah's Dixie looked for evening thunderstorms. Tuesday brings mid-70s again, winds of 15-30 mph and evening showers; the wet weather continues on Wednesday, with highs a few degrees cooler.

The Utah Division of Air Quality, ever the fan of stormy, wet weather, awarded "green," or healthy grades statewide.

There was no such relief for allergy sufferers, however. The Intermountain Allergy and Asthma website put mulberry and cedar pollen levels at "very high" as of Monday, while oak and grass were "high," and mold and maple were at "moderate" levels.

For more extensive forecast information, visit The Salt Lake Tribune's weather page at sltrib.com/news/weather/.

remims@sltrib.com, pmanson@sltrib.com

Twitter: @remims, @pamelamansonslc

 

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