Inversion creates domino effect on cold, health, drought

By: Taylor Temby Email
By: Taylor Temby Email

It's a question we've been asking ourselves since the temperatures dropped: When is the Valley going to finally warm up? Know More about the inversion and how it's affecting us besides just making us cold.

Christmas was 29 days ago, but for many around the Valley, it's still feeling and looking like a white Christmas.

"Thirty-six days we've had one inch or more [of snow] on the ground," National Weather Center forecaster Paul Frisbie said. “[The inversion] basically just traps the cold air and it settles in."

The Valley has been sitting in this inversion for weeks, bringing more than just freezing cold temperatures this winter.

"We’ve had 25 days of zero degrees or colder,” Frisbie said.

Many of us have battled the elements, as the trapped cold has made it difficult for the ice and snow to melt. For some, however, the lingering air is also causing respiratory and heart problems.

"Pollution becomes trapped down here at lower elevations, so every little bit of pollution accumulates in the Valley," Mesa County Health Department air quality specialist Edward Brotsky said.

That’s why the Health Department has been issuing so many red air quality advisories. So far this winter the county has issued 33 no burn days for fireplaces and older, non-EPA certified wood stoves, far above the average of 19.

"This is the most number of no burn days since the 1991-92 winter season," Brotsky said.

Water experts worry the inversion may also be giving some an inaccurate picture of the drought.

"We do still have a ton of snow down here in the Valley, but that's snow that fell a long time ago," Colorado Mesa University Water Center coordinator Hannah Holm said.

Though temperatures are much colder than years past, many areas in Colorado (including the mountains) are warmer than they should be for this time of year.

“[Snow] just hasn't been piling up in the mountains like it should. Each week the picture gets just a little bit worse," Holm said.

Holm says your garden may benefit from the snow once it melts, but that likely won't happen until another storm blows through.

"Oddly enough it takes a cold front to get rid of the inversion," Frisbie said.

While we still have the inversion, the Mesa County Health Department also recommends people change their driving behaviors to reduce pollution. That includes car pooling, not puffing your car as often and running all of your errands at once.

You can also sign up to receive e-mails from the county about no-burn days. Click on the link below to be directed to the page.


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