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Storm clears some but not all of the gunk

Published: Sunday, Feb. 14 2016 5:35 p.m. MST

A pedestrian walks his dog over Wasatch Boulevard in the snow and inversion in Salt Lake County on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns can expect to breathe a little easier thanks to Sunday’s showers and snowfall, but they're not out of the smog quite yet.

The weekend storm scoured the smog blanketing the Salt Lake Valley, helping to relieve an intense, more than weeklong inversion. However, forecasters say it will take some time before pollution drops down to lower levels.

While Sunday's storm helped cleanse some of the gunk, pollution levels still lingered near unhealthy levels for sensitive groups.

"It did improve things a great deal," KSL meteorologist Dan Guthrie said Sunday. "But unfortunately, we still have a little ways to go before we're back to normal."

After more than a week and a half without a storm, Wasatch Front pollution levels rose past "unhealthy" levels for sensitive groups, which is set at 35 micrograms per cubit meter of PM2.5, or fine particulate matter potentially harmful to lungs.

Pollution levels reached such concerning heights in Utah County that flights in and out of the Provo Airport were canceled Thursday and Friday. Airport officials blamed a “sticky cloud” hanging directly over runways.

However, Guthrie said the Wasatch Front's air is expected to improve gradually over the next several weeks as temperatures rise. The high temperature in Salt Lake City is expected to be 47 degrees on Presidents Day, rising up to a high of 56 degrees on Wednesday.

Another storm is possible on Thursday.

"Once you hit Presidents Day, that's usually when temperatures start to get warmer so the inversion (disperses)," Guthrie said. "This should really be almost the end of our inversion season."

Email: kmckellar@deseretnews.com, Twitter: KatieMcKellar1

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