Hurricane-force winds wreaked havoc Tuesday as huge trees fell, schools closed, and more than 175,000 Utah homes and businesses lost power.
Gusts reaching at least 99 mph were recorded at stations around northern Utah, with the worst winds concentrated north of Salt Lake County, the National Weather Service reported. Schools in the Davis, Weber and Ogden districts closed due to unsafe travel conditions and power outages. The Salt Lake City School District, which was supposed to start online classes today, also closed because of power outages.
Additional school closures include the City Academy of Salt Lake City; Nuames High School in Ogden and Layton; and the Reid School in Salt Lake City.
University of Utah and Weber State University canceled classes. Westminster College is closed until noon; and the Spectrum Academy in North Salt Lake is on a two-hour delay.
Several University of Utah clinics and COVID-19 testing centers were experiencing closures and delays, the U. reported.
TRAX is shut down at this time and multiple bus routes are delayed or being re-routed, the Utah Transit Authority announced. So far the Salt Lake City International Airport is experiencing only minor delays.
Semi-trailer truck travel has been restricted in Box Elder, Davis and Weber Counties because of the winds. According to the Utah Highway Patrol, several trucks have been blown over and trees and power lines are blocking highways and interstates in those areas. U.S. 89 between Park Lane in Farmington and Oak Hills Drive in Layton has been closed because of downed power lines, according to the Utah Department of Transportation.
There are downed trees elsewhere across northern Utah, including at the Utah State Capitol, which was closed for the day, Gov. Gary Herbert announced.
The National Weather Service clocked winds of 99 mph at Park Lane on U.S. Highway 89, with gusts of 97 mph in Farmington and at Logan Peak, 89 mph at the University of Utah’s Browning Building, and 84 mph at Hill Air Force Base.
“We’ve heard some reports of 100+ mph winds but we do not have access to that data,” NWS meteorologists said on Twitter.
According to the National Weather Service, the strong winds will continue throughout the morning before a lull in the afternoon. But “very strong easterly winds are expected to ramp back up” between Salt Lake City and Ogden on Tuesday night and continue into Wednesday morning. Temperatures — which are expected to top out in the mid-50s on Tuesday — will rise into the low 60s on Wednesday as the low pressure slowly pin-wheels north along the Utah-Colorado border.
Mature trees were toppled throughout northern Utah, some crushing cars and damaging homes. Rich Garner is in Utah on vacation from Pennsylvania. He woke up to find his rental car smashed in Salt Lake City.
And Chris Peterson, the Democrat running in Utah’s gubernatorial campaign, had a massive 100-year-old sycamore fall in his yard, damaging the sidewalk. Tera Peterson, the candidate’s wife, said “I’m nervous. This could go all day.”
The Salt Lake Tribune will update this story.