BRRRRRR! - the sequel.
A bitter blast of arctic proportions chilled Utah on Saturday and settled in, shattering 60-year cold-temperature records.At 6:45 p.m. Saturday, the mercury plunged to 6 degrees below zero at the Salt Lake International Airport, the coldest day in Utah since a 4-below temperature was recorded in 1930. Dave Sanders, lead forecaster at the National Weather Service, said the record is the sixth new bragging right claimed in 10 days.
A relative heat wave - of all of 24 degrees on the plus side, anyway - was recorded before sunrise Saturday. "And it's slipped downhill ever since," Sanders said. "Looks like the coldest air is overhead now, and seems to be moving on through."
It's a familiar chill to valley residents, who shivered under a similar deep-freezing air mass last week and demanded record service levels from both Utah Power & Light and Mountain Fuel Supply companies.
Both fronts blew south from the polar regions and the Canadian Yukon. But this week's repeat performance of dangerously cold temperatures doesn't appear to be chilling as large an area, and doesn't appear as persistent.
Sanders predicts Sunday temperatures should be warmer, with Monday daytime highs reaching above the midteens.
The front isn't dumping heavy snow, although some white stuff is expected south of the Great Salt Lake, notably in Tooele Valley and along the Oquirrh Mountains, and up to an inch or two could drift to the ground along the west side of the Salt Lake Valley.
To the south, the state will be slightly warmer.
But in the mountain valleys, such as the Brighton and Solitude ski areas up Big Cottonwood Canyon, temperatures were heading toward 20 below zero Saturday night. Sanders said those areas will be lucky to warm up to zero degrees on Sunday.
By Monday, the deep freeze should thaw. But haze in the valley could cause an inversion, locking in a a cold-temperature weather sandwich until at least Tuesday, possibly Thursday.
Northern Utah ski areas will have highs near 10 degrees and lows around 15 below, with partly cloudy skies and a few snow flurries.
Meanwhile, travelers were advised to take special precautions, and residents were cautioned to leave water trickling out of faucets to prevent frozen pipes.
"The winds are going to be pretty strong, so exposure is going to be a pretty serious problem," said Michael Lewis, weather service meteorologist.
Travelers should take at least two extra blankets, plus extra clothing, especially socks and gloves. These can help save people from frostbite, or even death, in the event they are stranded.
"Basically, it's going to be very cold," Lewis said. "So the best thing is to be prepared."