Valley surrenders to deep freeze as soupy, brown haze marches in

An inversion in the Grand Valley makes for low temperatures. When this photograph was taken at the top of Little Park Road, the temperature was 22 degrees. At the bottom of Little Park Road, it was 5 degrees. If an inversion layer stays in place for a long time, pollutants can build up to high levels and cause health problems.



121613_1a_Inversion_CPT

An inversion in the Grand Valley makes for low temperatures. When this photograph was taken at the top of Little Park Road, the temperature was 22 degrees. At the bottom of Little Park Road, it was 5 degrees. If an inversion layer stays in place for a long time, pollutants can build up to high levels and cause health problems.

121613_the_air_up_there

With every step, the air gets a little bit warmer for hikers climbing up the nearly two-mile Serpents Trail in Colorado National Monument.

Conversely, every step back down gets you that much closer into the freezer of the Grand Valley.

Anyone who has looked off into the distance lately could surmise we are in that weather pattern locals disdain: the dreaded inversion.

The good news, according to meteorologist Ellen Heffernan, is this soupy brown blanket of haze could clear out with a storm slated to come our way Thursday.

The bad news, said Heffernan, who works for the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, is it will be replaced with another bout of cold air. It’s the perfect storm to set up for another inversion.

“At least it will be fresh air for a little while,” Heffernan offered.

Nippy temperatures lately have been busting weather records. Zero degrees in Palisade on Dec. 13 tied a record for that same day in 1931. A minus 5 degrees early Thursday morning broke a record of minus 3 degrees on that day in 1978.

Temperatures were about 21 degrees below normal last week.

“If we didn’t have an inversion, we would probably be in the mid-30s or up into the 40s,” Heffernan said. “Warming would have to be significant to break the inversion.”

So far, the inversion is considered fairly shallow, sitting below 9,000 feet, she said. Above that altitude, the weather might feel downright balmy.

“I’ve heard reports of people who have gone up on Grand Mesa or Powderhorn that it’s quite pleasant up there,” she said.



COMMENTS

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I wish this story would have gone a bit further, to mention how inversions keep VOC’s in the Valley, causing problems for people with breathing issues and young children who do not yet have fully developed lungs. This is a story we cannot keep ignoring.

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