Environment & Public Lands
5:24 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Goodbye to Winter Smog? Forecast Says the Season's Last Inversion Starts next Week

This snapshot of the Climate Center's inversion forecast shows a likelihood of a weeklong inversion -- and the smog building -- beginning in about a week. You can see the page online at: http://climate.usurf.usu.edu/inversion.php
Credit Utah Climate Center

    

Skies have been smog-free in northern Utah for the past few days. Now the Utah Climate Center says we can breathe easy for at least another week.

The view over the Salt Lake Valley is pollution free. We can thank the storm that scrubbed the valley clean before the weekend. And snowstorms this week will keep the air clear of winter smog a while longer. But next week a high-pressure system will settle in. And that means sooty pollution will build in the valley again. Martin Schroeder is a meteorologist at the Utah Climate Center. He says computer models tell us what to expect.

“If you can identify an event days, weeks and even up to a month out,” says Schroeder, “then you would hopefully, potentially be able to disseminate information better to the public and industry as well.”

Forecasters rely on data from far away, like Pacific Ocean temperatures. The climate center also uses historic weather trends and local patterns. Forecasters now say they can spot an inversion a month out -- weeks sooner than a typical weather forecast. Schroeder says data like this can be useful.

“We’ll end out the month, the third week of the month, with a persistent, long-term inversion lasting somewhere around a week,” Schroeder says. “That should end it our inversion season.”

Gov. Gary Herbert’s Clean Air Action Team has tapped the climate center to help search for pollution solutions. But it also can help people like Antwon Longshore. He and his University of Utah roommates struggled with the deep inversions earlier this winter. He says inversion forecasts like these could help plan for outdoor activities.

“Yeah, it would help out especially for people who asthma or something like that,” says Longshore, “and breathing or upper respiratory problems, which I have.”

You can check the inversion forecaster yourself at the Utah Climate Center web page.