SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Happy Friday, Utah!
We have big changes on the way, with an increasing southerly flow. The west side of the state will have increasing South and Southwesterly flow and winds will be cranking. This southerly push targets the West Desert most, but we will probably see whipping winds yet again along the Wasatch Front. Wind from this direction can transport warmer into the state.
This also gives the potential for strong crosswinds on Interstate 80. There is a possibility 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 am and holds until Saturday at 10 pm 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 am to 10 pm and brings blowing dust resulting in hazy skies. I-15 could see reduced visibility due to conditions at times.
These winds will also ramp up fire concerns and have been expanded to the areas facing an increased fire risk. The Red Flag Warning goes into effect Friday morning for a large number of states and critical fire danger will hold on until 10 pm Saturday night. We have high heat, extremely dry fire fuels, and dangerous winds. 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 the area of high pressure off the East and the low pressure area of the Northwest, which forces southeast flow 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 the Gulf of Mexico and 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 possible for SE Utah, with the exception of Zion National Park on Friday, but that changes for the rest of the weekend.
This is NOT the weekend to be in canyons or low lying areas, and it is 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 and that is another reason Red Flag Warning has been posted.
A thunderstorm threat stays throughout the weekend and a cold front will slip through the state on Sunday. Sunday in Eastern Utah, you can’t rule out a storm over the next few days.
The cold front will lead to 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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