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When will Utah's record-breaking heat wave end?

The sun reflects off of the 111 Main building as two women walk on the sidewalk along State Street in Salt Lake City Tuesday morning. Temperatures are expected to remain near or above 100 degrees in Salt Lake City through Thursday, breaking more heat records in the process.

The sun reflects off of the 111 Main building as two women walk on the sidewalk along State Street in Salt Lake City Tuesday morning. Temperatures are expected to remain near or above 100 degrees in Salt Lake City through Thursday, breaking more heat records in the process. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — September has already shattered all sorts of Utah heat records, as temperatures across the state continue to soar to levels typically experienced in July.

Salt Lake City, for instance, reached 100 degrees or hotter for the first five days this month, including a September record 104 degrees set on Monday. The National Weather Service expects that high temperatures will remain near or above 100 degrees through Thursday.

Prior to last week, the city had only experienced three 100-degree days in September between 1874 and 2021. This year has been completely different. With Tuesday's, Wednesday's and Thursday's forecasts, the city could possibly tie the record for the latest in a year that a 100-degree day is recorded (matching Sept. 8, 1979).

This current heat wave began with a pair of 100-degree days to close out August. If the forecast through Thursday holds up, Salt Lake City will also match its longest stretch of consecutive 100-degree days on record, which was set in July 2003.

It's not terribly uncommon for Salt Lake City to experience a stretch of consecutive 100-degree days, KSL meteorologist Matt Johnson points out. However, all the previous record stretches have happened either in July or August. Never has there been a stretch so late in the year like this.

"We're doing this mostly in September — day one started in late August — so this is just unheard of," he said. "And we're probably going to finish with 10."

Many other daily temperature records were either tied or broken throughout the state over the Labor Day weekend, per the weather service.

Friday

  • Cedar City: New record of 98 degrees, breaking a record of 96 degrees set in 1950
  • Deseret, Millard County: New record of 104 degrees, breaking a record of 100 degrees set in 2019
  • Kodachrome Basin State Park: New record of 96 degrees, breaking a record of 95 degrees set in 2019
  • Provo (BYU campus): Tied record temperature of 98 degrees set in 2019
  • Scipio, Millard County: New record of 96 degrees, breaking a record of 95 degrees set in 1950

Saturday

  • Altamont, Duchesne County: Tied record temperature of 88 degrees set in 1948
  • Rosette, Box Elder County: New overnight minimum temperature record of 70 degrees, breaking a record of 66 degrees set in 2019
  • Tooele: New record of 100 degrees, breaking a record of 95 degrees set in 2007
  • Zion National Park: New minimum temperature record of 74 degrees, breaking a record of 73 degrees set in 2004

Monday

  • Altamont, Duchesne County: New record of 90 degrees, breaking a record of 88 degrees set in 2020
  • Cedar City: Tied record temperature of 99 degrees set in 2020
  • Escalante: New record of 100 degrees, breaking a record of 98 degrees set in 2020
  • Kodachrome Basin State Park: Tied record temperature of 99 degrees set in 2020
  • Scipio, Millard County: Tied record temperature of 98 degrees set in 2020
  • Spanish Fork: New record of 99 degrees, breaking a record of 98 degrees set in 2020
  • Tooele: New record of 99 degrees, breaking a record of 95 degrees set in 2020
  • Woodruff, Rich County: Tied record temperature of 92 degrees set in 2020

More heat to come

More record heat is expected over the next few days. Most of Utah is listed in either a heat advisory or excessive heat warning that is currently set to expire Wednesday evening. That means many Utahns will be at risk of heat-related illnesses, according to the National Weather Service.

As a precaution, the agency issued the following recommendations:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room and stay out of the sun as much as possible.
  • Check in on relatives and neighbors.
  • Never leave young children or pets unattended in vehicles.
  • Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening.
  • Wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing when possible.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Call 911 if someone is experiencing heat stroke.

An end in sight?

All of this heat is the result of a massive high-pressure system that remains over Utah, pushing away clouds and monsoonal moisture. The system is so strong that it's causing record heat all over the West, from the Southwest to parts of Canada.

But there's a growing probability for things to change just ahead of this weekend because of a pair of systems off the Pacific Coast, Johnson says. First, there is a low-pressure system located off the coast of Canada. Current weather prediction models indicate that this may help push the high-pressure system out of Utah so Hurricane Kay — currently off the coast of Mexico — can move into the American Southwest and parts of Utah, possibly as early as Friday or Saturday.

"As this high-pressure system starts to weaken as early as Friday, (there's) a flow out of the north as the low-pressure system swings to the north. And playing in action is Hurricane Kay — some of the remnant moisture from the tropic disturbance will move into southern Utah to start and maybe even northern Utah as we get into the weekend and into early next week," he explained. "For now, though, we'll deal with the heat."

While it's unclear how much rain the remnants of the storm may provide Utah, this atmospheric shakeup is also expected to drop temperatures by 10 to 15 degrees from the record heat to start the week, according to the National Weather Service.

The agency projects that highs across the Wasatch Front will fall to the upper 80s to lower 90s beginning on Friday and through the weekend. The forecast is still about five to seven degrees above September normals, but nowhere near the record heat to start the month.

High temperatures in northern Utah are expected to fall from near triple-digits through Wednesday to mid-80s by Friday. Highs in St. George are expected to drop from about 110 degrees on Tuesday to mid-90s by the weekend, while Cedar City is forecast to have highs drop back into the 80s by the weekend. Similar cooldowns are expected across central and eastern Utah.

"There's hope at the end of the high pressure here," Johnson said.

Full seven-day forecasts for areas across Utah can be found online at the KSL Weather Center.

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Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com. He previously worked for the Deseret News. He is a Utah transplant by the way of Rochester, New York.

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