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Predicting Utah winter inversion especially tricky this year

Posted at 5:54 PM, Dec 14, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — Air quality experts hope a series of storms keep inversion under control across the State of Utah. 

"We are in a pretty good storm track right now, we are hoping it stays that way,” said Monica Traphagen, general forecaster for the National weather Service. 

READ: Report warns of long-term drought, air quality issues

While it’s hard to predict the future, air quality and weather experts agree this winter’s inversion season is impossible to forecast.The odds are split on if Utah will see more winter storms than usual or less. 

“There isn’t a strong signal either way, unfortunately,” said Traphagen. "I can’t give you a forecast of any accuracy whether we will have fewer impacts of air quality or more impacts of air quality.”

However, the amount of pollution expected to get trapped under a blanket of inversion is easier to predict.

“There is a good likelihood that our pollution that we see during this winter will be about the same as last winter or maybe a little bit less,” said Utah Division of Air Quality’s Bowen Call. 

Vehicles with cleaner emissions are behind an overall decline in air pollution in Utah, counteracting a growing population. Heeding the DEQ’s action days remains critical, even when the air looks clear.

"We generally are pretty proactive on the forecasts so we will call a voluntary or mandatory action in advance of the air getting bad because we want the pollution not to build up to get to the point where it is bad,” said Call.  

To reduce air pollution, it’s important to limit or combine driving trips, buy a clean-emission vehicle, buy tier-three fuel and avoid burning wood and coal.