Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Our broadcast signal serving the St. George (93.9) area is operating in low power mode. More Information.

'Heartbreak Ridge': Inversion's Here To Stay Awhile

Utah Department of Transportation
This screenshot from rush hour Thursday shows how the winter smog is already settling in on the Salt Lake Valley. Using cars less means less pollution in the air and less inversion buildup.

It's a great time to try out public transit. That's because the first big inversion of the season has settled in and pollution's building in northern Utah valleys.

Jim Steenburgh is calling it "Heartbreak Ridge." He's a University of Utah professor of atmospheric science whose Twitter handle is Professor Powder. He also blogs at Wasatch Weather Weenies, and a recent post got a lot of traction: “Disastrous Heartbreak Ridge to Develop.” Why that name?


“It’s just a big high-pressure system that’s developing over the western United States,” says Steenburgh. “I call it “Heartbreak Ridge” because it’s kind of a heartbreaker for skiers at least for the next week or week and a half -- or maybe longer.”

Generally speaking, high pressure shoves aside any storms that would deliver snow and clean air. The National Weather Service shows no storms in Utah’s near-term forecast.

And the pollution? All signs are it’s starting to pile up under the lid of high pressure. Steenburgh says emissions from cars and trucks today will become pollution tomorrow.

“Everybody in the valley should think about cutting down on driving today. We need to do it now, because this air mass is going to be around for quite a long time.”

The nonprofit UCAIR has some ideas for reducing your own pollution footprint. One is carpooling or using public transit.


KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.