Flash floods, lightning in southwest Utah, hot temperatures across state
The skies will be raining more than fireworks this Independence Day weekend as a surge of moisture floods Utah from the south, giving rise to humidity, thunderstorms and a risk of flash flooding.
As the Beehive State endures some of the year's hottest temperatures, "monsoonal moisture" will bring on a smattering of isolated thunderstorms that the National Weather Service warned may produce dangerous lightning and strong gusty winds throughout the southern and western two-thirds of the state.
The likelihood of heavy rainfall will increase over the weekend, the weather service said, noting flash flooding is possible in low-lying areas.
But with the mercury rising to near 100-degree levels throughout the state, flash floods and lightning strikes may be the least of Utahns' worries.
Heat-related dangers spike with the temperature, officials said, noting there were four heat-related fatalities in Utah last year.
The weather service is warning residents to take extra care while celebrating the holiday.
Tips on enjoying and surviving the heat are detailed on the weather service's website: http://nws.noaa.gov/os/heat/index.shtml. Among its listed advice: Never leave a child or pet unattended in a hot vehicle. Drink plenty of water. Schedule outdoor activities for cooler times of the day. If you go on a hike, pack plenty of water and take a map, compass or a GPS unit to avoid getting lost.
The heat, combined with dry conditions throughout southcentral and southwestern Utah, raises a "Red Flag" wildfire danger warning.
Effective through midnight Wednesday, the advisory applied to sections of the state stretching from Nephi south and west through Richfield to St. George, and running south and east through Bruce Canyon and Zion National Park.
Air quality will also take a hit, with the Utah Division of Air Quality giving the Wasatch Front an "orange," or unhealthy, prediction for Independence Day in Salt Lake, Weber, Davis and Utah counties. Box Elder and Tooele counties earned "yellow," or compromised air quality grades, while "green," healthy breathing conditions were expected for Uintah, Duchesne, Carbon, Washington and Cache counties.
For more extensive forecast information, check out the Tribune's weather page at http://www.sltrib.com/weather.