Winds and fire danger spike in parts of Utah

Weather

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4) — Gusty winds will grip the state through the end of the work week, with the strongest wind gusts expected in the west desert and southern portion of Utah.

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These winds are triggered by the movement of a storm system, an area of low pressure, that is pushing into the Great Basin. This large area of low-pressure parks itself in Nevada until the end of the work week, and its counterclockwise rotation allows for a strong southwest flow.

We can expect strong southwest winds through the end of the work week, but there are some areas that will see more severe wind than others.

The National Weather Service has issued a “high wind warning” beginning at noon Thursday and will hold until 9 p.m. The warning gets re-issued at 11 a.m. Friday and lasts through 9 p.m.

Winds are expected to decrease in intensity for lower elevations and valley locations Thursday night into early Friday morning before increasing once again by early Friday afternoon. Winds will remain gusty overnight for wind prone areas.

The high wind warning impacts western Millard and Juab counties, including the cities of Delta, Beaver, Cedar City, and Little Sahara with southwest winds of 30 to 40 mph and gusts up to 65 mph expected.

This is an area under exceptional drought, so blowing dust is possible during these conditions. High winds may move loose debris, damage property, and cause power outages.

A “wind advisory” has been posted as well by the National Weather Service for Eastern Juab County, Millard Counties, Western Uinta Basin, Glen Canyon Recreation Area, Lake Powell, a part of Washington County, and around Zion National Park.

Central Utah is also facing these conditions with the Sanpete Valley, San Rafael Swell, and Castle Country also under an advisory.

Advisory areas can expect southwest winds to blow around 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph possible. Patches of blowing dust are also expected in these areas, and at times, that could limit visibility and make travel difficult, especially for high profile vehicles.

Bottom line, central, Eastern and Southern Utah face strong winds through the end of the work week.

Winds along the Wasatch Front are expected to increase as well with gusts between 20 and 30 mph through the weekend. No current wind advisory includes Northern Utah or the Wasatch Front.

These winds are concerning and residents in impacted areas should secure loose objects and recognize the potential for a power outage.

Gusty winds like this are also a major contributing factor to our rising fire danger. A very large chunk of Southern Utah is currently under a “Red Flag Warning” that remains in effect until Friday night.

A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now due to a combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures. These three criteria often means if a wildfire started, it would spread quickly, and crews would be facing some extreme fire behavior.

Red Flag conditions are expected to develop by late morning each day and continue until sunset, with lighter winds and some overnight relative humidity recovery each night. Above inversions, humidity recovery will be poor and winds will remain gusty overnight. This warning impacts the SW Desert, Grand Staircase area, San Rafael Swell, and Color Country Mountain in Eastern Utah.

Strong southerly winds are expected to shift east toward Lake Powell on Saturday, and conditions remain cooler, unsettled with the potential for storms through the weekend.

Since this is a developing weather situation, you can stay informed on-air and online with the Pinpoint Weather Team as they track changes and deliver Utah’s Most Accurate Forecast.

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