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AM News Brief: Climate And Wildfires, St. George Flood & Utah Reps. On $25 Billion For Post Office

Photo of a post office box full of mail.
Wikimedia Commons
The U.S. House of Representatives voted Saturday to send $25 billion to the U.S. Postal Service and reverse recent controversial changes made by the postmaster general. This and more in the Monday morning news brief.

Monday morning, August 24, 2020


Utah At The RNC

Six Utahns are in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the scaled-down Republican National Convention Monday. Delegates were required to get tested before heading to Charlotte, and must wear masks and track their symptoms throughout their stay. They said they would miss the festive atmosphere of a normal convention, but, given the COVID-19 pandemic, scaling down the convention was the right move. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Unpredictable Weather Exacerbates Wildfires

Since May 1, there have been over 160 red flag warnings issued by the National Weather Service in Utah because of hot, dry and windy weather. These conditions make for a bad season, but changing weather patterns year-to-year will exacerbate wildfires, according to Jon Meyer, a climatologist at Utah State University’s Utah Climate Center. Wet years may mean a break from dry conditions, but they also help vegetation grow. Then when a dry year comes around, those plants become fuel for fires to burn hot and fast. The official fire season runs from June through October, but Meyer points out that warmer temperatures year-round could mean seasons that last much longer. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Follow KUER’s coverage of Utah’s 2020 Fire Season.

Record Breaking Temperatures Continue Across Utah

Utah hit more temperature records Sunday, continuing a trend from last week. The town of Deseret in Millard County reached 103 degrees, breaking the nearly 30-year mark of 101. Spanish Fork's record dating back to 1942 was eclipsed by one degree, at 99. Escalante and Levan also saw new records by one degree, both hitting 97. And nine locations had overnight lows hotter than ever. In Alta the mercury only got down to 61, breaking the hottest record low of 58 in 1996. And in Brighton the low temperature overnight was 58, compared to the 1995 record of 53. Salt Lake City's 14 year old record was broken by two degrees with an overnight low of 76. — Diane Maggipinto

COVID Weekend Numbers

Utah health officials reported 670 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend and an additional two deaths in Salt Lake County. Over the past week an average of 349 cases were reported daily with an 8.4% test positivity rate. There have been over 624,000 people tested in the state since the beginning of the pandemic, and 138 people are currently hospitalized due to the disease. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Northern Utah

East Fork Fire Forces Evacuations

The East Fork Fire forced evacuation of campgrounds, a guest ranch and hikers and hunters in Duchesne County over the weekend. The fire started last week because of a lightning strike. The Great Basin Incident Management Team took over Sunday and said the blaze is mapped at roughly 4 square miles. The fire is burning mostly in the High Uintas Wilderness, where no large fire has happened in about 50 years. Authorities have closed the High Uintas Wilderness west of Lake Fork Trail and Highline Trail, to the Ashley National Forest boundary, and some forest service roads adjacent to the fire. — Diane Maggipinto

Southern Utah

Flooding In St. George

Heavy rain brought flash flooding to the St. George area Sunday night and closed the freeway in the metro area. The National Weather Service tweeted at 10:30 p.m. that the heaviest of the rain had ended but significant flash flooding was inundating parts of St. George. There were numerous stalled vehicles and road closures. St. George Police asked stranded drivers and those whose homes were flooded to hold off on calling emergency services. The department tweeted that tow services were tied up and asked those stranded in their cars to wait out the rain and high water. Police reported a sinkhole, downed power lines and various city streets that were flooded. Most lanes in both directions of I-15 in Washington County are now open again. — Diane Maggipinto


Utah Delegation On USPS Funding

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Saturday to send $25 billion to the U.S. Postal Service and reverse recent controversial changes made by the postmaster general. From the Utah delegation, Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams was the only one to vote in favor of the bill. Republican Rep. Chris Stewart did not vote. Republican Reps. John Curtis and Rob Bishop voted against it. Curtis said the current funding problem the USPS has won’t impact its ability to handle mail-in ballots for the upcoming election. The bill passed the House 257 to 150, but it is not expected to make it past the Republican-controlled Senate. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Could Westerners Be Gaining Trust In The Feds?

The novel coronavirus pandemic may be changing how rural westerners feel about government relief spending, according to a new survey led by Yale University. The researchers said rural communities have a reputation for being self-reliant but survey respondents showed broad support for relief spending on healthcare, housing, infrastructure, small business and direct payments to individuals during this time. Read the full story. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

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