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Wasatch Back seeing above-average temps amid Western heat wave

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Parker Malatesta
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Old Town, Park City on Tuesday afternoon.

Park City weather is expected to cool down later this week, with a high of 73 projected for Friday.

Temperatures are expected to hit the 90s this week in Park City, as the West deals with a grueling heat wave that is expected to dissipate somewhat later in the week.

The normal high temperature for this time of year in Park City is usually in the low to mid-70s.

Monica Traphagan is the lead meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Salt Lake City. She says Park City reflects the rest of the state, where current high temperatures are roughly 15 degrees above normal compared with historical data.

“So as far as the weather pattern goes, what we’ve been seeing is we have a very strong ridge of high pressure that’s centered directly over Utah right now," Traphagan said.

"So we’re seeing quite abnormally warmer temperatures here and throughout the West. You’ve probably been hearing about the heat wave in California - it’s all related to this big ridge that’s just over the West, centered over Utah.”

Traphagan said the timing of the heat is abnormal.

“It’s a ridge that we would consider very strong for mid-summer, for July," she said. "But to have it happen in early September, is kind of unprecedented on record.”

Salt Lake City Airport hit 104 degrees on Monday, which is a new record for this month. Salt Lake City has seen temperatures over 100 degrees 33 days this year, which smashes the previous record of 21 days in a single year.

Traphagan said the record-breaking is a sign of climate change.

“We’ve been breaking a lot of these high temperature records and overall seeing a pattern in the climate where the temperature on average is getting warmer if we look over a long period of time. That we believe is climate change related. There is data that shows that climate change is causing rare extremes in the weather.”

Elevation is the main contributing factor to Park City’s relative coolness compared to the Salt Lake Valley. Traphagan said you typically see about a 10 degree difference between the two.

She cautioned anyone traveling to southern Utah this week, where temperatures over 100 are expected.

Park City weather is expected to cool down later this week, with a high of 73 projected for Friday.

Parker Malatesta covers Park City for KPCW. Before coming to NPR, he spent one year as a general assignment reporter for TownLift in Park City. He previously was the news editor at The News Record, the student paper at the University of Cincinnati. He loves running, reading, and urban planning.