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Health, Science & Environment

More Than 100,000 Homes Without Power As Cleanup Begins After Utah Wind Storm

Photo of large downed tree crossing a sidewalk.
Brian Albers
/
KUER
Powerful winds have cut electricity to thousands of Rocky Mountain Power customers, mostly in northern Utah.

Powerful winds have cut electricity to nearly 110,000 Rocky Mountain Power customers in northern Utah. Downed power lines hampered travel by rail and road, and schools have cancelled in-person and online classes.

Closures

  • There are no classes Wednesday for students in Salt Lake, Davis, Ogden and Weber school districts due to widespread power outages, continued strong winds through the morning and travel restrictions for high-profile vehicles like school buses.
  • In Davis County, in-person instruction will resume Thursday for Group 2, students with last names beginning with the letters L-Z and Friday for Group 1, students with last names A-K. B-day classes will be held on Thursday and Friday for secondary school students.
  • For the Salt Lake City School District, acting superintendent Larry Madden said it could be two days before power is restored across the system. Meals for students will be available from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday outside in the parking areas
    • Backman Elementary, 601 North 1500 West
    • Clayton Middle, 1470 South 1900 East
    • East High School, 840 South 1300 East
    • Edison Elementary, 430 South Cheyenne Street
    • Escalante Elementary, 1810 West 900 North
    • Liberty Elementary, 1085 South 300 East
    • M. Lynn Bennion Elementary, 429 South 800 East
    • Meadowlark Elementary, 497 North Morton Drive
    • Nibley Park School, 2785 South 800 East
    • Northwest Middle School, 1730 West 1700 North
    • Rose Park Elementary, 1105 West 1000 North
    • West High School, 241 North 300 West
    • Whittier Elementary, 1600 South 300 East
  • Granite School District closed some schools for Wednesday. They are: Spring Lane, Upland Terrace and Eastwood elementary schools, Bonneville Junior and Granite Connection High.
  • Canyons District cancelled classes Wednesday at three Sandy schools: Albion Middle and Quail Hollow and Brookwood Elementary schools
  • Classes at Weber State University have been called off Wednesday.

A dozen parks around Salt Lake and the city cemetery are also closed until Wednesday morning at the earliest. They are:

  • Fairmont
  • Jordan
  • Riverside
  • Cottonwood
  • Lindsey Gardens
  • City Creek Canyon
  • Liberty
  • Sunnyside
  • Pioneer
  • Rosewood
  • Warm Springs
  • Washington Square

Salt Lake City Emergency Declaration

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall has signed an emergency declaration due to the wind storm that moved through the Wasatch Front Tuesday morning and is expected to continue into Wednesday.

Mendenhall said hundreds, if not thousands, of trees around the city are downed or badly damaged and she asked people to stay off the roads as much as possible to allow city crews to work on clearing the debris.

The mayor said residents and businesses can go online to report downed trees.

Power Outages Continue

More than 3,200 power outages across Utah add up to nearly 110,000 homes and businesses without electricity. That's according to main provider Rocky Mountain Power, whose crews have been working around the clock. Representatives said people should be prepared to be without power into Thursday and should 72-hour kits of water, food, and batteries. They also warn people to steer clear of any downed wires, as they could be live.

Transportation

Utah Highway Patrol said troopers, UDOT and tow truck crews worked Tuesday to clear semis blown over through Box Elder, Weber and Davis Counties. Blown over and low power lines shut down parts of U.S. 89. Speaking at a press conference, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said 45 semi-trucks have overturned on the state’s highways.

The Weather System

The unusually strong winds were caused by a storm system and cold front that came down from Canada and made its way through the central plains of the U.S. and into the Wasatch Front, according to Meteorologist Christine Cruz with the National Weather Service.

“It was a very cold air mass behind that front and we were very warm ahead of it,” Cruz said.

“We were in the 90s to even 100s ahead of it, and this air behind it was in the 30s and 40s.”

Cruz said when there is that much of a temperature difference, along with such a strong storm system, winds will intensify.

Cold fronts like that aren’t unusual in winter, she said, but they are for this time of year. Though she said it’s difficult to say if this one storm is the result or a sign of climate change, or if climate change will make wind storms more common in the future.

“It's very difficult to tie one particular event to climate change,” she said. “It's more likely we could say that these very warm temperatures that we’re more commonly seeing in September would be related to the long term pattern from climate change. But we can't really say anything in association with this one storm system.”

Updated: September 9, 2020 at 11:05 AM MDT
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