Hotter weather means hazier skies ahead

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SALT LAKE CITY -- We could hit 100 degrees this Friday and Saturday, and the hotter, sunnier days ahead will mean the haze will settle in.

"Typically, when we have temps in the 90s and clear, sunny days, that's when the conditions are in place to create ground-level ozone," said Bryce Bird, the planning branch manager for the Utah Division of Air Quality.

Bird says the division may put out a red-air alert in the morning when there are blue skies, because the air will get worse in the afternoons.

"Our emissions that we generate from automobiles and other sources kind of cook in the afternoon sunshine and create that ground-level ozone," Bird said.

**Air Quality: Wasatch Front**

Utah Division of Air Quality

He says the rainy weather has kept many yellow- and red-air alert days at bay. "We usually start in May with elevated ozone levels, but with the clouds and the rain we had in June, it has delayed the normal ozone season," Bird said.

In May of this year, we didn't have any red- or yellow-air alert days. But in May of 2008 there were five yellow days.

June wasn't bad either. There were just three yellow-air days all month and no red days, compared to five yellow days in June of 2008 and four red days. It's because of the weather.

So far this month we've only had four yellow-air days, but the month isn't over yet. If it's anything like last year, Bo Call, manager of the Utah Air Monitoring Center, says we could see more bad days to come.

"Ozone is created from pollution and sun, so the hotter it is, the better the formation of ozone," Call said.

Predicting bad-air quality days for the rest of the summer is pretty much impossible. All air monitors can do is keep a close eye on the weather forecast and encourage everyone to drive less.


Story compiled with contributions from Mary Richards and Courtney Orton

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