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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Although I love this Place

Utah has been getting press lately regarding the air quality around here.
No offense to the people who live there but usually when the topic of bad air quality is debated, La comes to mind. And well,  to be honest, Salt Lake City usually brings to mind images similar to Denver or Tahoe. Clear bright blue skies with pristine snow caps.
Not this year!
*Cough* *Cough* *Sputter*
It seems that no less than four of the northern major cities in the state have qualified for the 'worst air in the nation' list.
Wintertime in the Rockies it is not uncommon to see a large low cloud hanging low into the valleys, a cloud large enough to run mountain bench to mountain bench. This large looming cloud is called an inversion.
With the ceasing of convection, which is normally present in the atmosphere, a number of phenomena are associated with a temperature inversion. The air becomes stiller, hence the air becomes murky because dust and pollutants are no longer lifted from the surface.
This can become a problem in cities where many pollutants exist. Inversion effects occur frequently in big cities such as Mumbai, India; Los Angeles, California; Mexico City ; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Santiago, Chile; and Tehran, Iran, but also in smaller cities like Oslo, Norway, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Boise, Idaho, which are closely surrounded by hills and mountains that together with the inversion effect bottle-caps the air in the city. During a severe inversion, trapped air pollutants form a brownish haze that can cause respiratory problems. The Great Smog, one of the most serious examples of such an inversion, occurred in London in 1952 and was blamed for thousands of deaths.- Wikipedia

Most winters we get inversions, however a good snowstorm clears it out of the atmosphere and the sun shines in and the air is clear once again. Not this year! Although we have had a couple of real good storms, the bad air continues to hover and haunt.

I suffer from slight asthma and it is tough to catch a breath these days, outdoor activity is near impossible. Respiratory illness and bronchial colds are as widespread as the swine flu.

We had the opportunity this weekend after some work schedule changes, to drive to the south end of the state to visit my parents for three days. I felt like an elephant had been lifted from my chest. My eyes were not red, my lungs filled with clean oxygen, and my sinuses clear as ever.

Until we drove home.
As the girls and I were heading north, we could see the beautiful sun setting in the clear blue sky above the red rocks of the south, as the mountains took on a more blue grey hue, so did the sky. Resembling the large shadow cast over the land in Close Encounters, the horrible grey-brown clouds hung over the valleys we were headed into.
It was great to see my parents, it was nice to chat about our upcoming cruise and to breathe so free.
But too short.
They predict a storm on Wednesday, Hopefully it will be big enough to clean the atmosphere but not so big that the traffic is hazardous. I am still making do in my sons car, awaiting my repairs. And I am just not used to driving without 4-wheel drive.

For now, I will be shallow breathing. And if we don't get a storm soon, I am afraid that the winter doldrums will continue to bring me down.
for now, this song brings a little sunshine to my day whenever I hear it:

and so does this face!


  1. Wow, great lesson on convection and inversion! I would have never guessed Salt Lake had problems like that. Fill your lungs with good air whenever you can!

  2. DH- Usually Salt lake only has issues like this for a day or two, then the air clears and the sun comes out. This is a bit of an anomaly. I sure hope it clears out soon. And glad I could educate you some.

  3. its so beautiful however!!!! :) Hope it clears up soon and the air is a beautiful as the view!


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