Sunday, January 10, 2010

Winter grays

Our Air Quality here along the Wasatch Front is measured as the "worst" in the USA today. Unfortunately, no improvement is anticipated until Wednesday when a moderate sized Pacific storm will move through the Great Basin. Temperatures are moderating a little, but still remain below normal.
In the northern Utah mountains we have a weather phenomenon known as the 'inversion', in which cold stale air gets trapped in the valleys, while the clear sunny and warmer air can be found only at the higher elevations. Without storms the inversion turns into smog, fed by regular fog from the lake and wetlands, and pollution from cars, heating, and industry. The air becomes toxic and we are advised not to drive, if possible, and people with lung problems such as athsma are advised to stay indoors. Wood burning in fireplaces and stoves is prohibited.  You can see, taste, and smell the air.  We hope for a storm to blow the gunk away.

Our air quality index in Salt Lake and Cache counties right now is the worst in the nation.  We've had that distinction several times this winter.   But right now it's about as bad as it ever gets.  It's typical January, but it seems this year it has lasted longer than normal. Maybe I'm just noticing it more. But I'm longing for some blue sky. 

So today's weather forecast makes me hopeful. Wednesday a storm is predicted and with temps above freezing, it will be one of those "rain in the valleys, snow in the mountsins" perfect kind of storms we love. It will clear out the gunk, will melt away some of the snow on the ground that's looking dirty, and will add to the snowpack in the mountains which we need so much for our summertime water.

I feel hopeful.


Alex said...

I don't know how you guys manage. We finally moved from there in early December, and I'm so glad--last January in SLC was very hard on our health, I actually got smog-induced bronchitis. : / It makes me really sad to think of our friends who are still there, struggling with the air. I do hope it clears out soon.

Jacqui Binford-Bell said...

Every time I want to curse the wind in my valley I think of my years of living in Denver and Albuquerque with its hideous air quality this time of year. Like your friend, Alex, it sadly effected my health.

I like your wished for forecast of rain in the valleys an snow on the mountains. Wish me up a batch of that here too. I definitely am tired of subzero nights.

Becky Stauffer said...

We did get some blue sky today. I had some visiting to do and even though there was haze in the air, it was sunny and the blue sky came through.

I know what you mean, Alex, I think we compensate by staying in as much as possible and waiting for this to pass. Sometimes it's just a few days, but sometimes it can go on for weeks.

Jacqui, I'm sending that same wish your way. It was up to 35 today - woo hoo!

heatherbelle said...

Mmmm..I've been catching up with my blog reading today and it appears it's not only the weather that is causing icy temperatures, if you get my drift. There are a few toxic words out there in blogland at the moment.
Maybe the weather has a lot more to answer to than we realize.

Becky Stauffer said...

Yes, I've noticed that, too. We do need something nice -- like better weather, at least.

Nicholas V. said...

We've been getting worse pollution with the heat too, so not pleasant!
Hope it clears up for you soon.

Becky Stauffer said...

Things have taken a turn for the worse with dense fog yesterday and today. I think this is Mother Nature's way of ensuring we will be extra happy when Spring shows its face around here.

Not to worry though, my mood remains optimistic despite the gray. :)