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Smoke afflicting Utah should start moving out by Tuesday

It’s coming from California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Smoke is visible in the Salt Lake Valley on Monday, July 12, 2021.

The air remains smoky and unhealthy on Monday in Salt Lake County, but relief is on the way.

Salt Lake County’s level of PM 2.5 particulates from smoke remains in the red category — unhealthy for all people — on Monday morning. PM stands for particulate matter and is a standard way of measuring air quality. It’s yellow — moderately unhealthy — in Cache, Davis, Tooele, Weber and Box Elder counties. The smoke afflicting Utah is coming from “a mix of fires burning across the West — California, Washington, Oregon and Idaho,” said Utah Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Ashley Sumner.

But there is good news.

“We’re expecting the particulates from the fires to start moving out of the area by Tuesday, with cloud coverage increasing,” Sumner said. “The upper level winds are shifting, and that’s going to keep most of the smoke out of northern Utah.”

According to the National Weather Service, moisture will spread north Monday, creating more cloud cover.

“So improvements in air quality all around,” Sumner said, “blowing out the PM 2.5 smoke, and then cloud cover will prevent ozone from setting up.”

Over the Fourth of July holiday, DEQ was able to compare pollution levels caused by fireworks to the 2020 holiday, and “there was a real reduction in PM 2.5 pollution from firework smoke,” she said. But all the smoke blowing into the state from wildfires “is making it really hard for us to determine what smoke is what. So at this point, we aren’t able to say that the firework bans improved air quality. We’re doing more analysis, but that’s going to take a day or two.”

Afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms — including heavy rain in some areas — are possible across the state through Sunday.

The forecast calls for it to be hotter in Salt Lake City (99) than in St. George (94) on Monday. It’ll cool just a bit in Salt Lake City, with highs in the mid-90s and overnight lows in the low 70s through Friday. And it’ll get hotter in St. George, with a high of 97 on Tuesday and about 100 Wednesday-Friday, with overnight lows in the mid- to upper 70s.

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