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Escaping mucky inversion easier than escaping cold temperatures

Published: Saturday, Jan. 5 2013 7:41 p.m. MST

The state Capitol is seen from Beck Street on a cold morning in Salt Lake City, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) The state Capitol is seen from Beck Street on a cold morning in Salt Lake City, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — With no significant storms expected until next week at the earliest, there is no immediate relief in sight from the inversion that has blanketed the Wasatch Front and beyond with mucky air and extremely cold temperatures.

That’s leading a lot of people to contemplate plans of escape for the weekend.

“We were like, ‘Oh it’s a beautiful day, let’s go!’” exclaimed Cortney Smith, who was headed up to Brighton Friday with her husband to learn how to snowboard.

Park-and-ride lots appeared busy below the valley’s resorts.

Others headed up to the mountains also expressed displeasure about the air quality.

“Uhhh, it’s not very inspiring,” said John Mletschnig, looking over his shoulder like the inversion was capable of following him. “What can you say?”

The state Capitol is seen from Beck Street on a cold morning in Salt Lake City, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) The state Capitol is seen from Beck Street on a cold morning in Salt Lake City, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

Not everybody has a desire to ski, though, and the dilemma for those people appeared more challenging this weekend.

“Just don’t go to Randolph — minus-22,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Monica Traphagan, surrounded by computers maps of the nasty, bitter air.

Heading to rural areas of Utah may yield cleaner air, but in most parts that air is even colder.

“If you want to get warmer temperatures, you’ll have to go way far south — St. George, Kanab,” Traphagan said.

In fact, Traphagan said Salt Lake City was as close to a hot spot as there is nearby.

“Salt Lake City is actually one of the warmer valley locations right now,” Traphagan said. “We’ve had low temperatures of 7, 8 degrees — which is much warmer than minus-22 in Randolph or Delta.”

Mari Nemec gets spun around in a tube by her grandmother Mary Hughes at Willow Creek Park in Park City on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013. It is Mari's first time in the snow. She lives in Southern California. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News) Mari Nemec gets spun around in a tube by her grandmother Mary Hughes at Willow Creek Park in Park City on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013. It is Mari's first time in the snow. She lives in Southern California. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

Traphagan was uncertain why in this case Salt Lake City was markedly warmer. With other inversions, it hasn’t been.

The ongoing inversion left the Utah Office of Tourism to offer some perhaps unexpected advice to non-skiers who didn’t want a long drive south: go to the ski resorts, anyway.

“Even if you’re not a skier, take a drive up to one of our ski resorts,” deputy director Tracie Cayford said. “I would suggest maybe spending the day in Park City or up in Wasatch County just to get out of the inversion for a day.”

Even famed Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore mused about the inversion Friday on his official Twitter account.

“Another day, another inversion over Salt Lake City,” the tweet read, complete with a photo of the soupy valley mess. “A toasty 33 atop Hidden Peak @Snowbird.”

Mari Nemec, 9 months old, is all bundled up for her first time out in the snow with her aunt, Amy Hughes, at Willow Creek Park in Park City on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013. Mari lives in Southern California. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News) Mari Nemec, 9 months old, is all bundled up for her first time out in the snow with her aunt, Amy Hughes, at Willow Creek Park in Park City on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013. Mari lives in Southern California. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

Cantore previously had tweeted he was in Utah to “learn how to survive and save someone caught in an avalanche.”

E-mail: aadams@ksl.com

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