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Winds wreaking havoc in northern, western Utah

Published April 23, 2014 8:02 am
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Strong wind gusts, over 70 mph in some places, brought down power poles and tossed vehicles Tuesday afternoon in northern and western Utah.

In the valleys along the Wasatch Front, the strongest winds were clocked at 72 mph, on Interstate 15 at Tremonton, the National Weather Service reported. The gusts there toppled two semitrailer trucks, critically injuring one driver, Utah Highway Patrol troopers confirmed.

The first truck, a UPS vehicle hauling a triple trailer with a light load, was driving south about 4:30 p.m. where Interstates 15 and 84 meet. As the truck was rounding a broad curve, a gust tipped it over. The UPS driver was not seriously injured, troopers said. However, an Associated Foods truck carrying an empty 38-foot trailer with a 28-foot pup trailer was traveling about 500 feet behind the UPS truck. The winds tossed that truck into a guardrail, pinning in the driver and critically injuring him, UHP Lt. Lee Perry said. After he was extricated, he was driven to McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden because helicopters could not navigate the dust storm caused by high winds. He was later upgraded to serious condition, said UHP Sgt. Todd Royce,

Dispatchers reported multiple complaints of wind damage along the Wasatch Front. Several electrical wires were damaged, one dropping over a car at 5600 South 900 East, said Murray Fire Battallion Chief Jon Harris. The top of the car was scorched, but the people inside were not injured.

"The people did the right thing: They stayed inside the car," Harris said. A 40-foot utility pole was blown loose from the ground near 300 West and 5900 South, where it dangled in the wind and forced traffic closures in the area.

Gusts downed enormous trees along the Wasatch Front and caused power outages affecting 14,000 customers during the day, Rocky Mountain Power reported. As of Tuesday night, 6,000 remained without power in Salt Lake, Box Elder and Weber counties.

The strongest gusts statewide were at Ogden Peak, at 96 mph.

Winds came with a dramatic temperature drop: 24 degrees, from 77 to 53, between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at Salt Lake City International Airport, said NWS meteorologist Monica Traphagan.

"This was a very strong cold front," Traphagen said. "Seeing a temperature drop that big in that amount of time is definitely uncommon. Fronts this strong don't come around that often."

Tuesday's winds are expected to give way to a rain-snow mix on Wednesday. Highs in Salt Lake City are expected to reach the low 50s.

For more detailed information, visit The Tribune's weather page.


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Twitter: @jm_miller






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