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Old 01-30-2011, 11:12 PM
SouthernBelleInUtah Moderator
Location: Mostly in my head
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Default Inversions

What are these temperature inversions I hear about? Are they bad for you and do they last all winter long?

A temperature inversion is the phenomenon which occurs when the air at ground level is colder than the air higher up. When the cold air stops circulating, it becomes murky. The dust and pollutants which might otherwise not be so noticeable, are trapped where they are not just breathable but visible. The result can be some very unhealthy air. While temperature inversions can affect areas throughout northern Utah, Salt Lake City and Logan are notoriously bad in this regard. Inversions are made worse by snow remaining on the ground for days at a time, and yet the only thing that gets rid of them is a good strong storm, which inevitably clears the air but brings more snow.

We can find ourselves in a pattern of inversion after inversion for weeks at a time. The weather will warm up a few degrees before a storm, the wind and snow coming in – usually from Alaska – will hit us, we’ll have a couple of beautiful days with snow covering the ground and brilliant blue, cloudless skies. These will be followed by a few days of hazy sunshine and then a few days of brown muck. Then the process will repeat itself. The “inversion season” generally starts in late December and extends into mid-February, when it starts getting a little better.

As has already been pointed out, the air we are compelled to breathe during these periods of time is unhealthy for all of us. For those with asthma or other respiratory problems, it’s even worse. Still many people with these medical conditions do live and thrive in the northern Utah valleys. And even for those whose breathing isn’t noticeably impacted by the bad air, day after day with no direct sunshine and visibility of perhaps only a couple of blocks can affect your mood. When that happens, take a drive up to one of the ski resorts since they are never plagued by this dreaded mud soup. If you can’t do that, you might at least hope to catch one of the magnificent sunsets over the Oquirrh Mountains to the west of the city. On hazy days when the inversion isn’t at its worst, the atmosphere plays tricks with the sun’s rays, and the sky can be a pretty spectacular explosion of color.

info from Katzpur
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Last edited by SouthernBelleInUtah; 02-09-2011 at 01:50 PM..

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