SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Happy Friday, Utah!
We have big changes on the way, with an increasing southerly flow. The western side of the state will have an increasing South/Southwesterly flow and winds will be cranking. This southerly push targets the West Desert the most, but we will likely see whipping winds yet again along the Wasatch Front. Wind from this direction can transport warmer air into the state.
This also brings the potential of blowing dust and a hazy appearance to the valley, as well as the potential for strong crosswinds on Interstate 80. There is a chance that travel could be impacted, when it comes to limited visibility and strong crosswinds at times. As a result, a High Wind Warning is in place for the western side of the state and includes the Tooele and Rush Valleys. The warning goes into effect at 10 a.m. and holds until Saturday at 10 p.m. and includes gusts up to 65 miles per hour.
A Wind Advisory has also been issued for the Wasatch Front, Wasatch Back, Salt Lake Valley, Utah County, Bryce Canyon Country, San Rafael Swell, Kanab, near Lake Powell, Juab, and Millard Counties as well as the Sanpete and Sevier Valleys. This wind advisory is in effect Friday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and brings blowing dust resulting in hazy skies. Gusts will get up to 55 miles per hour in areas under the advisory and portions of I-15 could see reduced visibility due to conditions at times.
These winds will also ramp up fire concerns and there’s been an expansion to the areas facing an increased fire risk. The Red Flag Warning goes into effect Friday morning for a bulk of the state and that critical fire danger will hold on until 10 p.m. Saturday night. We have high heat, extremely dry fire fuels, and dangerous winds elevating the fire threat to a critical risk. With many people headed outdoors for Father’s Day weekend, it is imperative Utahns exercise extreme caution with this fire risk.
Why are we seeing this strong wind? This is due to an atmospheric setup and our first hint of the monsoon in the Desert SW. We have an area of high pressure off to the East and an area of low pressure to the Northwest, which forces a southerly flow to set up and bring in some enhanced moisture from the south into the Great Basin.
In this case, the moisture comes from the Gulf of California and Gulf of Mexico and it increases the chance of storms through the central part of Utah and on the eastern side of the state through the holiday weekend. These storms could have brief, heavy rain, gusty outflow winds and lightning. Flash flood potential is possible for SE Utah, with the exception of Zion National Park on Friday, but that changes for the remainder of the weekend.
This is NOT the weekend to be in slot canyons or low lying areas, and it’s very important to stay informed on the weather. Friday also brings the chance of dry thunderstorms, where precipitation would evaporate before hitting the ground, but we could see lightning. This scenario poses a serious risk when it comes to wildfire starts and that’s another reason a Red Flag Warning has been posted.
A thunderstorm threat stays in the forecast through the weekend and a cold front will slide through the state on Sunday. The best precipitation potential looks to be Sunday in Eastern Utah, but you can’t rule out a storm over the next few days.
The cold front will lead to a below average, cooler start to next week, but first, we have to get through the heat! Stay with us for updates as we trek toward the weekend.
Bottom line? An active Friday with whipping winds, high heat and storm potential.
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