A temperature inversion that has locked in cool air and clouds around the Grand Junction area for the better part of a week could move out this afternoon, but it could be a short reprieve.

A front that was expected to come through the Grand Valley from the northwest on Thursday night and early today could be what’s needed to push out the cloud cover that’s been socking in the valley for days. The National Weather Service in Grand Junction has monitored the inversion for the past six days, according to meteorologist Jonathan Klepatzki, who said the low clouds could return.

“Once this wave comes through, we could be looking at a half-inch of snow most likely Thursday night into (today),” Klepatzki said.

What happens after the weekend is anyone’s guess.

“Next week’s forecast is still up in the air,” he said.

Inversions such as this one are created when the sun heats up the ground and releases the energy at night, warming the atmosphere. If the air above can’t cool the warmer air quickly enough, the warm air can push the colder air below and serve as a lid to trap it in. On flat land, the inversion could erode more quickly, but in Grand Junction, which is between two ridges, it can hang around longer.

Keeping in the clouds also means keeping in much of the bad air emitted by automobiles and wood-burning fires. Mesa County Public Health regularly monitors the area’s air quality and issued no-burn advisories for both Wednesday and Thursday prior to 5 p.m. The advisory pertains to agricultural burning and woodstove burning if the wood stove is not the primary heat source for a home.

Exposure to air pollution is associated with ailments such as respiratory disease and other issues, according to Mesa County Public Health.

Even with the inversion, Mesa County Public’s Health air quality forecast for Thursday through Saturday was moderate and good for Sunday and Monday.

In the meantime, the health department is asking the public to reduce their number of car trips, make sure tires are inflated, mulch compost leaves and yard waste, conserve electricity, consider gas logs instead of wood and check the wood stove database to ensure a setup is certified by the Environmental Protection Agency.

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