Lingering Inversion Posing Health Risks
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Every winter the Grand Valley experiences weather inversions, a phenomenon causing cold air to be trapped at lower altitudes. This year, weather experts are reporting longer-lasting inversions, which can be problematic.
Jeff Colton, meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said, "Essentially it's a layer of warm air up above us, it's trapping the cold air in the valley down here on the floor. So up in the mountains temperatures are in the low 30s, down here in the valley we are looking at temperatures around 20."
Saturday marks the 17th consecutive day of below freezing temperatures in the valley.
"When I came into work we were at 20 degrees here at the office. One hour later, because we had winds blowing from Fruita, temperature dropped to 13 degrees," Colton said.
Inversions tamper with air-quality, the longer they last the more harmful they can be.
Grand Junction firefighter Derek Trombetta said, "There's a lot more pollution and the air is a little bit heavier, we do see people kind of getting a little more of that respiratory distress, breathing difficulties."
"Cars are polluting into the atmosphere, people are burning wood stoves. All that pollution is trapped in the valley," Colton said.
The best preventative measure is avoiding the cold air altogether.
"If they know they are going to be outside for an extended amount of time, a neck gator or something you can actually put over your mouth. A lot of people need to remember they need to actually breathe through their nose, helps warm that area and filter out some of the particulates before it would go into their throat," said Trombetta.
"You can actually see a layer of pollution out there every morning. It impacts a lot of us, especially the elderly," Colton said.
Trombetta also said, "The thing is too, also with kids, they do have an increased chance of respiratory and breathing difficulties. That's actually the number one emergency we see on infants and smaller children."
Until a storm system sweeps through the valley, folks will have a better chance warming up on the slopes than the city streets. Officials say it will be a few days until that happens.