This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Get out your long johns, prepare to bring the dog inside and start saving for the heating bill. It's going to get cold and windy in Utah over the next two days.
A "commuter special" snowstorm predicted for Tuesday morning brings the potential of blowing snow and icy roads as temperatures drop by 15 degrees or more from Monday's highs.
"An Arctic cold front positioned over Montana will come through us right during the commute," said Glen Merrill, a forecaster with the National Weather Service's Salt Lake City office. "It's not going to be a big snow producer, bringing anywhere from half an inch to two inches of snow in the valleys and three to six in the mountains. ... But it could stick to the roads and ice could be an issue."
Then, as cold weather settles in during the day, canyon winds will start to develop, potentially blowing snow and creating problems near the mouths of Wasatch Front canyons. Temperatures in the Salt Lake area could drop to zero Tuesday night with the wind making it feel even colder.
Traditionally frigid Utah spots such as Bryce Canyon or Randolph may hit 20 below. Forecasts for parts of eastern Utah predict the wind chill could approach 40 below.
St. George and Utah's Dixie are not expected to fare much better. Merrill said winds between Cedar City and St. George will ramp up Tuesday afternoon and last much of the day Wednesday, with gusts possible of up to 50 miles per hour. Lows both nights will approach 20 and seem colder with the high winds.
Whether the storms and wind change a January pattern that saw decreased snowfall and numerous valley inversions along the Wasatch Front remains to be seen.
"The whole month was dominated by high pressure. We've been locked into these prolonged inversion periods," said Merrill. "Looking out the next few days, the mean ridge that has been positioned over the West is expected to shift further off the coast. That opens us up to a better chance for the storm track to move back into our neck of the woods."
Salt Lake received 5.9 inches of snow and .65 inches of water in January, which is about 50 percent of normal. But the water situation remains good overall, with Utah between 125 and 200 percent of normal due to heavy snowfall in late 2010.
As for long-term climate trends, the National Weather Service reported that 2010 tied with 2005 as the warmest year of the global surface temperature record, beginning in 1880. This was the 34th consecutive year with global temperatures above the 20th century average. In the United States, the 2010 annual temperature was above normal, resulting in the 23rd warmest year on record. Since 1895, the temperature across the United states has increased at an average rate of approximately .12 degrees per decade.
According to the Global Historical Climatology Network, 2010 was the wettest year on record in terms of global average precipitation. In the U.S., precipitation was 1.02 inches above the long-term average.