Valley’s fair name has been inverted

An inversion in the Grand Valley has locked a gray haze close to the valley floor Thursday afternoon. This photo was shot from the Colorado National Monument looking east to the Grand Mesa.

Ah, it’s great to live in the banana belt, this region of mild temperatures and fresh air.

If only that were the case, of late. But the final days of 2008 and the opening scenes of 2009 have been nearly the opposite.

The wintery feeling brought on by snow and icy temperatures has been exacerbated by the inversion that has cloaked the valley in a brown pall since Sunday. The inversion has kept the typical azure-blue skies of a clear Colorado day from being visible, and all but hidden the geologic monuments that surround the valley. However, the inversion could possibly blow out today.

Although such inversions haven’t been frequent occurrences in recent years, they are not atypical of the Grand Valley when snow and cold arrive in just the right combination. They have been worse in past years, when coal stoves were more common.

Inversions are commonplace in many mountain valleys — both large and small — during winter months. Check out the Salt Lake Valley on some cold, clear weekend.

Initially, the inversion here didn’t present as a serious health problem, according to officials with the Mesa County Health Department. But problems could develop, especially for people who already suffer from respiratory difficulties, if the inversion lingers and more pollutants are trapped near ground level.

That’s why it’s important to respect the edicts issued by the health department: Use of fireplaces or non-EPA-approved wood stoves are prohibited within the city, and it is highly recommended they not be used in other parts of the valley.

Everyone who has alternative sources of heat available should forgo using their wood stoves until the inversion relents, and the Grand Valley reverts to the more pleasant atmospheric conditions for which it is famous.


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