Santa was able to breathe a little easier and his sleigh moved a little faster Saturday night and early Sunday as the dirty air plaguing Wasatch Front valleys started to clear and new snow fell over some parts of Utah.

Light snow "has certainly improved air quality and should keep conditions from getting bad through at least Christmas Day. But the inversion might start strengthening again Monday and Tuesday with a buildup of haze along the Wasatch Front," said Jim Pringle, a meteorologist at the Salt Lake office of the National Weather Service.In Cache Valley, where it has been foggy and hazy for quite some time, an inversion limited visibility to one mile.

"We do not expect that area to break out (of the inversion)" very soon, Pringle said.

However, in some parts of Utah newly fallen snow helped to keep the air clean. Bryce Canyon, Garfield County, and Duck Creek Village, Kane County, reported three inches of new snow and Snowbird, two inches, for the 24-hour period ending at 5 p.m. Saturday.

The Kanab area was socked in with fog Saturday night. It rained lightly in that area all day Saturday, and sprinkled intermittently in a variety of locations along the Wasatch Front.

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The northern mountains were expected to receive 1 to 3 inches and the southern mountains, 2 to 4 inches, Saturday night and early Sunday. Perhaps an inch or two of additional snow will fall in the latter area Christmas Day as the main part of a storm system moves into Arizona, said Dennis Rodgers, a meteorological intern at the Salt Lake office of the National Weather Service.

As of 4 p.m. Saturday, the forecast was for cloudy weather with a chance of rain showers Christmas Day and night in the Salt Lake, Ogden and Provo areas. Monday it will be mostly cloudy with a slight chance of rain showers.

The chance of rain in Salt Lake City is 40 percent on Christmas Day, 30 percent Christmas night and 20 percent Monday.

The extended forecast Tuesday through Thursday is for partly cloudy skies, with lows from 15 to 25 degrees and highs from 35 to 45.

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