When will wildfire smoke clear Utah skies?

“Smoke from wildfires could lead to high particle concentrations in populated areas,” the Department for Environmental Quality said.

(Government of Alberta Fire Service/The Canadian Press via AP FILE) In this photo provided by the Government of Alberta Fire Service, a forest fire burns a section of forest in the Grande Prairie County of Alberta, Canada, on Saturday, May 6, 2023 . Smoke from Canadian wildfires has drifted into parts of northern and eastern Utah, the state air quality agency said on Friday, May 19, 2023.

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Utah residents hoping for a reprieve from Canadian wildfire smoke hanging over Salt Lake City and other parts of the state will have to wait until after Tuesday.

Air in Salt Lake, Davis and Weber/Box Elder counties is expected to be “unhealthy for sensitive groups” on Sunday and Monday, and then “moderate” on Tuesday, according to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. Air quality is expected to be “moderate” in Washington and Tooele through Tuesday. And in Utah County, air will be “unhealthy for sensitive groups” on Sunday and then moderate on Monday and Tuesday.

“Smoke from wildfires could cause high concentrations of particles in populated areas,” the Department of Environmental Quality said on its website. “If the smoke thickens, people with existing heart or respiratory conditions should reduce exercise and outdoor activities.”

You can visit air.utah.gov for hourly air quality updates or download the Utah Air app.

The weather forecast from the National Weather Service appears to be helping clear the smoke. The Salt Lake City area has a daily risk of thunderstorms or showers through Saturday, with highs forecast in the 80s.

The weather in the St George area looks sunny and clear through Saturday with highs in the 90s.

flood prospects

Big Cottonwood Creek is expected to rise overnight from Sunday into Monday, according to the weather service.

The creek is expected to reach 650 cfs on Sunday, exceeding its “action stage” of around 600 cfs. An “Action Phase” is a threshold that the weather service uses to determine when it should take action to prepare for potential flooding.

Areas adjacent to the creek are expected to experience light flooding beginning about 1 a.m. Monday, with daily peak discharges reaching about 800 cfs Monday through Friday.

The Weather Service has also issued a warning of minor flooding in low-lying areas near the banks of the Ogden River below Causey Reservoir and through the city of Huntsville. The flood limit for the Ogden River’s South Fork is 4.6 feet, and on Sunday the river was at 4.9 feet. According to the Weather Service, the river is expected to remain above minor flooding level until at least Saturday.

The Sevier River near Hatch in Garfield County is expected to fluctuate between near to moderate flood levels through Friday before dropping into the mild flood level, the Weather Service said. With a water depth of 3.9 feet, the river’s high water level, minor flooding will affect fields, bridges and low-lying structures.

Moderate flooding at a depth of 4.3 feet will affect fields, roads and bridges along low-lying sections of the Sevier River, including the river crossing along South Hatch Dam Road, the weather service said. Seasonal homes near Bullberry Street are also likely to be damaged by flooding.

The Bear River in Rich County, from below Woodruff Narrows Reservoir north to the Utah/Wyoming line, is under a flood warning through May 26, the Weather Service said. The Bear River is expected to remain high in this area for the time being, and some places that the weather service says will experience flooding are Randolph and Woodruff. If possible, livestock should be relocated to higher ground.

Flash flooding is “possible” in some slot canyons, dry washes, and small creeks in Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument on Sunday. , Natural Bridges National Monument and San Rafael Swell, and “probably” in Grand Gulch and Zion National Park, according to the weather service.

On Monday, flash flooding is “possible” in Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Glen Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Natural Bridges and the San Rafael Swell, and “probable” on Capitol Reef, the weather service said.

Justin Scaccy

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