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Storm Clears Air , Tangles Traffic

Storm Clears Air , Tangles Traffic

Posted - Jan. 26, 2004 at 7:50 a.m.



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(AP/KSL News) -- Weekend snow storms cleared out northern Utah's pollution-laden valleys and ended the inversions that brought health warnings and red-burn days for more than two weeks.

"We've got really clean air right now. Nobody needs to worry," said Laura Vernon, spokeswoman for Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

Blue skies returned to Cache Valley on Sunday, and the Bear River Health department lifted its health alert for particulate pollution.

"This is the best news in two weeks," said Grant Koford, environmental scientist for the Bear River Health Department.

Wood- and coal-burning conditions were green Sunday along the Wasatch Front and in Cache County, according to the Utah Division of Air Quality's Air Quality Index Report. The state monitors air over Cache, Weber, Davis, Salt Lake and Utah counties.

"We started going red on Jan. 8," Vernon said.

"It was kind of a long (inversion), but it actually was not as bad as we've had it in the past," she said. Past inversions have lasted up to six weeks.

State and regional health officials will have to wait until midyear to see if Cache County will face federal Environmental Protection Agency requirements to clean up its air.

The county has not met air quality standards set by the EPA for the previous two years.

While officials have implemented burn-control programs and tried to promote the use of mass transit systems, the county could also face routine vehicle emissions inspections.

While the storm cleared the skies, it also caused quite a mess on our highways.

On I-80 in Parley's Canyon yesterday, the roads were slick and the near white-out conditions made for very slow-going.

The weather was also a factor in a serious accident in central Utah. A car heading northbound near the I-15 & I-70 junction had slowed down due to the weather, but an approaching semi truck rear-ended the car.

A woman and an 8 year old child were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Rescue crews had to use heavy equipment to cut out an 11-year old who was trapped and is now in critical condition.

Troopers say drivers need to slow down when the roads are wet; and just because the plows have come through, doesn't mean there aren't patches of snow and slush left on the road.

( The Associated Press contributed to this story)

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