A pacific storm system is headed for Utah late Thursday afternoon, which will bring substantial snowfall and temperatures well below freezing -- starting at approximately 5:00 pm and just in time for the evening commute. Temperatures along the Wasatch Front approached 50 degrees Thursday morning, highlighting a stark contrast to the frigid weather Utah has seen for the past week. However, forecasters say it's the classic "warm before the storm."
Salt Lake City reached 45 degrees late Thursday morning, accompanied by warming sunshine. That's approximately 15-20 degrees warmer than the state has been this week. The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning for most of the state, effective at noon Thursday and running until Sunday. The storm is expected to deliver 5-10 inches of snow to the Salt Lake Valley and along the Wasatch Front. The benches should receive 6-12 inches of snow, while the mountains will see 1-2 feet. Higher elevations could see even more.
Changing temperatures aren't the only difference we will see. The haze in the air -- classified this week in the "red" category (unhealthy) -- will disappear late Thursday when the storm system arrives. The combination of wind and atmosphere turbulence will blow the haze out of the Salt Lake Valley's "bowl." The Utah Division of Air Quality said Friday morning will bring a "green" air quality zone, the best possible grade for breathable air.
Also soon to be history are the warmer temperatures, starting Friday. Forecasters expect they will fall 20-30 degrees off Thursday's highs. The overnight low heading into Friday will be approximately 20 degrees, and climb to just 25 degrees later in the day. Avalanche danger will also increase substantially on Friday with the new snowpack piling on top of old snowpack.
Temperatures are expected to reach highs of just 16 degrees on Saturday and 19 degrees on Sunday, and lows below zero on both days. By mid-next week, they will return to the 30s.
For regular updates on the approaching storm, visit the ABC 4.com Pinpoint Weather Center.