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AM News Brief: Utah Jazz Legend Dies, COVID-19 Averages Fall & Tree-Rings Tell Climate Story

A woman bores into a tree to take a tree ring sample. There are blue mountains in the distance.
Courtesy Grant L. Harley
Tree-rings near Yellowstone National Park show 2016 was the park's hottest summer in more than twelve hundred years. Karen Heeter of the University of Idaho looked at the connection between climate change and extreme fires. This story and more in Monday morning's news brief.

Monday morning, May 31, 2021


Flags Lowered For Memorial Day

Flags at Utah state facilities will be flown at half staff until noon Monday in honor of Memorial Day. Gov. Spencer Cox encouraged businesses and individuals to do the same, calling the lowering of flags a “tribute to our nation's fallen battle heroes.” — Sonja Hutson

COVID Weekend Update

Utah health officials reported 368 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend. For the past week, there’s been an average of 224 new cases each day, down from 274 this time last week. As of Sunday, 57% of Utahns over the age of 12 have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Health officials reported over the weekend that four more people have died from the disease: two women in Iron County, a woman in Utah County and a man in Salt Lake County. Two of the deaths occurred before May 1. — Sonja Hutson

Search And Rescue Calls High As People Get Outdoors

Search and rescue calls on the Wasatch Front are on the rise again this spring. In May, Salt Lake County Search and Rescue received about double the amount of calls that they did last year. Ryan Clerico, a member of the group, said that’s partially because the region got less snow this year so people are venturing out into the mountains earlier. In Utah County, Sheriff Sgt. Spencer Cannon said their search and rescue team has gotten about the same amount of calls this spring as last spring, but that’s still more than they typically got pre-pandemic. “Last year people got in the habit of going outside and realized how much fun it could be,” he said. Read the full story. Sonja Hutson

Northern Utah

Plane Crash Claims Two Lives

Two people died in a Saturday morning plane crash near Powder Mountain in Northern Utah. Devin Criddle was 26 years old and from Draper; Braeden Raleigh was 21 years old and from Salt Lake City. It’s not clear yet why the plane went down; the National Transportation Safety Board said it’s investigating the crash. Officials said the plane left Ogden's Hinckley Airport not long before the incident. The crash resulted in a small fire, but officials said the site was cold and wet so the fire was quickly extinguished. — Associated Press

Jazz Legend Mark Eaton Dies At 64

Legendary Former Utah Jazz player Mark Eaton, 64, died Friday night. The Summit County Sheriff said it appears Eaton died after crashing his bicycle, but there’s no evidence a car was involved. Eaton played for the Jazz from 1982 to 1993. He was an NBA Defensive Player of the Year twice and an NBA All-Star in 1989. After retiring from basketball, Eaton opened two restaurants in Holladay and became a motivational speaker. The Jazz said in a statement they were “profoundly saddened" at Eaton's unexpected passing. — Sonja Hutson


Yellowstone Tree-Rings Tell Climate Story

Tree-rings at Yellowstone show 2016 was the park's hottest summer in more than 1,200 years. New research from University of Idaho studied how the tree-rings document temperature and found that extreme warming trends over the years are not normal. The findings also connect the warming climate and extreme fires. Researchers said it's important to use this data to look at wildfire behavior as climate-related rather than fuel-related, especially as summer temperatures across the Mountain West trend hotter. — Stephanie Serrano, Mountain West News Bureau

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