A Winter Inversion along with -10 degrees Fahrenheit

////A Winter Inversion along with -10 degrees Fahrenheit

A few of my non-Utahn friends have asked me what an inversion is after I have mentioned it, this image might help to show what an inversion can look like.

Tooele County - Inversion at sunrise

Tooele County, Utah – Inversion at sunrise

Inversions here in the Salt Lake City area happen during mid-winter. It is not pretty and it can be very unhealthy. I took this photo this morning as we headed to North and South Willow Canyons in Tooele County, Utah to look for birds to photograph. If you squint your eyes and look just to the right of the sun you can see the Oquirrh mountain range which is all but hidden in the haze.

From Wikipedia:

One of the most significant weather events in Salt Lake City occurs in mid-winter, when temperature inversions sometimes form, resulting in cold and extremely foggy, hazy weather in the city while the surrounding mountains enjoy warmer temperatures and sunshine. Temperature inversions are extremely unhealthy and can occur weeks at a time, and are most pronounced in the heart of winter, although may occur in other seasons to a lesser extent. Humidity is only high enough and temperatures cold enough for fog to occur in the heart of winter, although haze and smog can be found year-round. Inversions occur when strong areas of high pressure park themselves over the Great Basin. It usually takes a cold front to force out or break down the high pressure. Consequently, inversions are very rare in spring and fall, when the atmosphere usually takes on a progressive pattern, with fronts moving through frequently.

It was very cold this morning when I took this image at -10 degrees Fahrenheit, it was bone-chilling to say the least.

These nasty inversions can create challenges for bird photographers when photographing birds in flight that have the inversion layer behind them because the sky can have some weird hues to it.

Salt Lake City actually has five seasons, winter, spring, summer, fall and Inversion. Okay it is not truly a season, but it ought to be.

Did I mention it is not pretty?



  1. M. Firpi January 6, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Thanks for pointing out this phenomena, I hope it dissipates soon.

    • Mia McPherson January 6, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      Thank you Maria, I hope it leaves soon too.

  2. Sherry in MT January 6, 2013 at 10:04 am

    We have the exact same thing and ours finally blew out yesterday but we still aren’t as warm as the people getting the chinooks. It ain’t pretty OR fun! Stay warm.

    • Mia McPherson January 6, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      Sherry, we aren’t warm either and I can’t wait for this inversion to blow out of here or I should invest in the stocks of an aspirin company.

  3. Ingrid January 5, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Mia, I’ve lived in a few places with the inversion effect, Los Angeles being one. Well, they always joked that sunsets wouldn’t be as spectacular on the south coast without the smog. Love this illustration and description.

    • Mia McPherson January 6, 2013 at 3:34 pm

      Thanks Ingrid, people who have seen these inversions understand them well. This inversion is making my head hurt and I can’t wait for it to leave.

  4. Laurence Butler January 5, 2013 at 4:18 pm


    • Mia McPherson January 6, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      That is a great word Laurence! Thanks

Comments are closed.