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A week of triple-digit temperatures in Salt Lake City?

SALT LAKE CITY — Forecasters are predicting a heat wave of triple-digit temperatures along the Wasatch Front that has the potential to last for a week.

"This is a warm start to the summer," said KSL meteorologist Dan Guthrie.

And those scorching temperatures will also keep the air quality low.

"With the weather the way it's been, we're not getting a lot of air movement and this is really cooking up the ozone," said Donna Kemp Spangler, spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

And no storms are forecast for the foreseeable future to stir up that hot air.

Saturday's high temperature is predicted to be 101 degrees in Salt Lake City, hitting 103 on Sunday, 102 on Monday and Tuesday, although forecasts can change as new conditions develop. In St. George, the forecast is 112 degrees for Saturday, dropping to 108 on Sunday and Monday and staying at least 106 degrees for much of next week.

"Normally we only average eight days in the 100s — two in July and six in August," Guthrie said of the Wasatch Front.

The last time a string of 100-plus temperatures hit Salt Lake City was during the heat wave of 2013, but it's too early in the summer to tell if history will repeat itself, he said.

But Spangler said one thing is sure: Higher temperatures mean lower air quality.

According to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality forecast, Salt Lake County is currently at orange, which means unhealthy levels of air pollution for sensitive groups, like those with asthma. That status is in effect at least until Sunday.

To combat poor air quality, Spangler said the Department of Environmental Quality is asking employers to issue mandatory trip reduction programs.

"The reason for that is simply because not driving is the best way to keep ozone levels low," she said. "Your vehicle exhaust is mixing with the sunlight and heat to create that ozone, which causes the pollution."

Some steps that help cut back on emissions also help people avoid heat-related illnesses, said Dr. Mark Shah, a doctor at Intermountain Medical Center.

Steps like avoiding time in a hot car prevents heat-related illness and cuts back on emissions, he said.

"The reason that we recommend avoiding being in the hot car for heat exposure versus contributing to ozone development are different, but they are related," Shah said.

For former Arizona resident Angie Swallow, staying cool involves drinking lots of water, staying inside and eating frozen treats.

"I know my kids eat lots of popsicles any time we're outside," Swallow said. "We're going through popsicles like crazy."

Frozen foods can also help to cool down pets, which can also suffer adverse effects from heat exposure. According to the Humane Society of Utah's website, excessive panting, excessive thirst, refusal to eat, drooling, lethargy and unconsciousness are signs of heat-related illness in animals.

Guthrie said Utah could see days where temperatures reach into the 100s until the end of August.

"Right now, I'd say we will see them for potentially the next six to seven days," Guthrie said. "After that it looks like it's going to cool down for a bit, but it doesn't mean they won't be back."

Email: klarsen@deseretnews.com