Inversion leaves Grand Junction in a haze

A ghostly Mt. Garfield is rendered barely visible beyond downtown Grand Junction as a temperature inversion locks a gray haze close to the valley floor.

The Grand Valley has been under a polluted cloak of air since Sunday.

A temperature inversion — created when cold air is trapped at the earth’s surface by warmer air — has settled in and could be staying for several weeks. The inversion has prompted public health officials to ban the use of wood-burning stoves and fire places as well as stoves that are not approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The ban is mandatory within city limits and voluntary in unincorporated parts of the county.

No health advisories are associated with this inversion, but if it continues, that could change.

“We have been in the good category with the air quality index, and our concern is that if the inversion lasts for a considerable amount of time, we will fall into the moderate to poor category,” said Steve DeFeyter, director of environmental health for the Mesa County Health Department.

If the air quality slips further into the moderate or poor category, people with respiratory difficulties, the elderly and young children will be advised to limit outdoor activities, DeFeyter said.

The inversion is affecting valleys along the Western Slope. It is deep and strong, said Mike Chamberlain, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Grand Junction.

“Here in the Grand Valley we have so much high terrain around us it is really hard to break out of these inversions,” Chamberlain said.

The best chance to break out of the inversion, at least for several hours, could come this weekend. A mild storm is moving in from the Pacific Ocean, he said.


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