"Big, nasty thunderstorms" whipped through northern Utah Tuesday, meteorologists said, causing flooding, widespread power outages, building and vehicle damage and toppled trees.
"Patio furniture, trampolines were down all over the place; a lot of really big trees down," said Len Randolph, meteorologist at KSL, describing the scene in East Millcreek.
Rocky Mountain Power estimated that 26,000 homes and businesses most in the east-central part of Salt Lake Valley were without electricity part of the day. Spokesman Dave Eskelsen said that despite hard work by repair crews, some residents would be without power into the night.
About 2,000 residences and businesses in Provo mostly in southwest neighborhoods may not have power restored until Thursday or Friday.Extra police patrols were ordered for darkened neighborhoods until power is restored.
In Provo, damage to Provo Municipal Airport could be the greatest expense: Seven planes were damaged, including five that overturned. Two helicopters were damaged. Thirteen buildings or hangars had moderate to severe damage, with three roofs blown off.
"Our airport looked like a war zone," said Provo Mayor Lewis Billings.
The control tower was running on generator power, but because other parts of the airport do not have power the airport was expected to close at dark Monday.
Floods surged through that city, electrical poles snapped and hit homes, and barns and roofs were damaged.
Fierce weather rolled into Utah from the west, according to Monica Traphagan, meteorologist with the National Weather Service forecast office on North Temple.
The storm dumped half an inch of rain in 15 minutes on Stansbury Park, Tooele County, said her colleague, NWS spokesman Eugene Van Cor. "That's a very significant rainfall rate."
At Grantsville, 0.4 inch fell in seven minutes. Magna was drenched with an inch of rain in 15 minutes.
"I got about 12 or so gallons of water in my basement bathroom," said Darin Christensen of Magna. "The water got so deep in the back yard that it flooded the window well and ran inside."
When thunderstorms slammed through, waves of rain lashed Salt Lake streets. At 800 South and State, the entire intersection was a pool that reached the bumpers of small cars, slowing traffic. Manhole covers were blown as torrents raced through storm drains.
Along Foothill Drive, traffic lights were out because of power failures along the east bench. A motorist driving near Foothill and Sunnyside Avenue called traffic a "huge mess."
Wind was clocked at 60 mph in Springville and at a point four miles east-southeast of Grantsville. However, radar reflections indicated gusts over Utah Lake reached 70 mph.
"You couldn't see out the windows," said Debra King, who lives on Provo's 600 South near 1920 West. "It was black. It was horrible."
Half of a neighbor's tree remained upright, but a huge clump of branches was splayed across the Kings' yard. The branches also crushed their back yard fence and the front and rear windshield of their car parked in the driveway.
Near Tiffanie Carter's home in Provo, a family's RV unit was sandwiched between the ground and a huge tree trunk, which crushed the vehicle's body.
Pine trees 30 or 40 feet tall were reported uprooted in the east Millcreek and north Olympus Cove areas, said Van Cor. Other trees, he said, were "snapped off because of high winds."
In East Millcreek, Meagan Black was preparing for another day teaching first grade at the Reid School when a window in her classroom blew open.
"That window doesn't latch very well," she said. "I went over to shut it and smash!"
An enormous pine tree crashed through several windows in the classroom. Glass was in her hair and pieces of tree were on the floor around her.
Other schools suffered minor water damage. Drains on the roofs of Hillsdale Elementary School, 3275 W. 3100 South, and Skyline High School, 3251 E. 3760 South, failed to contain all the water, and some leaked into classrooms, hallways and gymnasium, said Granite School District spokesman Randy Ripplinger.
"The sky turned green, it turned dark. You couldn't see anything," said Janet Perry, also in East Millcreek. "The water was flowing so bad you couldn't see anything."
A tall pine tree landed on her neighbor's home near 2900 South and 2000 East, crushing a car and taking out some power lines.
In the Millcreek Township area, trees were ripped out of the ground by the roots and tossed against houses and on top of cars. Water ran down the streets, pushing rocks and branches into the roads.
Near 3500 S. Oakwood St., debris and branches clogged a creek and sent water into a home. Firefighters cleared the debris and neighbors used shovels and push brooms to try and move the water back toward the creek. Cathy Neff said for a time, water was 3 feet deep around the home.
"I've seen about six or seven pines laying on homes," said Keith Hess, who runs a tree removal service. He was going through the Millcreek neighborhoods providing estimates for homeowners generally between $200 and $10,000, with insurance likely to pick up most costs.
Falling trees caused the greatest damage in the Millcreek neighborhoods. Outside an LDS Church meetinghouse near 3000 East and 3300 South, pine and maple trees were snapped. The parking lot had turned into a small lake.
"We had trees down in Park City due to thunderstorm winds," said meteorologist Traphagan. In Sugar House, trees fell on cars, she said.
Late Tuesday, Salt Lake County public works officials were setting out Dumpsters where residents could leave tree debris for pickup. They promised to chop up larger pieces and said downed trees should be left by the curb.
Costs of the county's cleanup of the East Millcreek area could be $200,000 to $300,000, according to council member Mark Crockett.
Jeff Niermeyer, deputy director of public utilities for Salt Lake City, said two homes were hit by flooding in the vicinity of 700 East and Wasatch Drive. "We had quite a few manholes just blow," he added.
Oddly, among an estimated 91,000 trees on public property within Salt Lake City proper, only one came down, said city forester Bill Rutherford. That tree, located about 1891 Crandall Circle, "damaged some gutters and probably pulled some shingles off the roof."
"It just pulled it out from the roots," said Pam Harris, who lives nearby. She thought the tree could be about 50 years old.
But as the saying goes, it's an ill wind that blows no one good.Comment on this story
Norm Hansen, who has served as a weather spotter for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for many years and has a rain gauge in his back yard at Mountain Green, Morgan County, said the downpour caused no problems at his home."But Mountain Green received a very welcome 1.27 inches of rain," he said. The rain fell between 6 and 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Contributing: Joe Bauman, Pat Reavy, Ben Winslow, Laura Hancock and Sara Israelsen