Expect more smoke — and maybe some rain — on Wednesday and Thursday

Air quality is expected to get worse for at least a couple of days.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Downtown and smoke over Salt Lake City on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021.

Utahns woke up to generally good air quality on Wednesday morning, but smoke is expected to start moving back into the state on Wednesday afternoon. And rain and strong winds are possible.

While the air quality in most of the state was rated green/good on Wednesday morning, it’s expected to be yellow/moderate later in the day in Salt Lake, Cache, Carbon, Duchesne, Tooele, Uintah, Utah, Weber and Box Elder counties, according to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

The weather front moving into the state is bringing smoke from West Coast fires. The DEQ forecasts orange/unhealthy for sensitive groups conditions for much of the state on Thursday, including Salt Lake, Cache, Davis, Tooele, Utah, Weber and Box Elder counties. In the other counties where air quality is monitored — Carbon, Duchesne, Iron, Uintah and Washington — the forecast calls for yellow/moderate conditions.

Air quality is expected to improve on Friday.

According to the National Weather Service, “high-based showers” and thunderstorms may bring erratic winds and gusts to portions of Utah on Wednesday afternoon and evening. A high-based shower means the bottom of the clouds may be as much as 12,000 feet or more above the ground, and the rain may evaporate “well before” it reaches the ground.

However, that means a higher chance of microbursts. And there’s the same chance of high-based showers and thunderstorms on Thursday afternoon/night.

There’s a 20% chance of showers and thunderstorms in Salt Lake City on Wednesday before midnight. Forecast high temperatures are 91 on Wednesday, 87 on Thursday and Friday, 83 on Saturday and 88 on Sunday.

Patchy smoke is expected in southern Utah as well on Wednesday and Thursday, with clearing on Thursday night into Friday. There’s no rain in the forecast for St. George through the weekend, and temperatures are expected to be in the low to mid-100s.

The National Weather Service also warns that “early indications suggest monsoonal moisture may begin to slowly return to southern Utah by the late weekend and possibly continue northward into early next week, bringing a potential increase in showers and thunderstorms.”

According to the weather service, flash floods are not expected at most Utah national parks and monuments on Wednesday — they’re possible at Capitol Reef. Flash flooding is possible at Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Natural Bridges and the San Rafael Swell on Thursday.