High winds rattle Utah's nerves with passing storm

Published: Monday, April 8 2013 11:35 a.m. MDT

The National Weather Service in Salt Lake City is warning that winds as strong as 70 mph will develop Monday evening from Bountiful to Brigham City and travel could be treacherous.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Fierce winds ripped through Davis County late Monday, stirring up bad memories from December 2011, when freakishly strong winds clocked in at hurricane strength.

The winds were expected to continue into Tuesday morning, tapering off into the afternoon.

KSL meteorologist Kevin Eubank warned Monday that wind speeds could reach between 60 mph and 80 mph from Bountiful to Ogden, and 40 mph to 60 mph between Brigham City and Draper.

Nearly 2,800 customers were without power for a short time Monday night due to the storm. The outage, which lasted from 8:20 p.m. to 8:55 p.m., was caused by lightning, Rocky Mountain Power spokeswoman Margaret Oler said.

Another outage was reported through Rush Valley and Skull Valley about 6:30 p.m., affecting about 700 customers. Power was restored to most customers before 8:30 p.m., though about 100 were still in the dark as crews investigated the cause of the outage Monday night.

Oler said the cause was unknown, but the area was reported to be experiencing some unpleasant weather.

In Cedar City, about 2,800 customers lost power about 9:30 p.m. Monday. The cause was unknown, and crews were dispatched as of 9:45 p.m., expecting to restore power by midnight, according to a Rocky Mountain Power hotline.

Wind, rain and snow also made travel treacherous. The Utah Department of Transportation required vehicles to have four-wheel drive or to use chains through Big and Little Cottonwood canyons Monday night. A travel advisory was also issued through Tuesday morning for I-15 between Scipio and Cedar City due to heavy road snow.

People with high-profile vehicles, such as truckers, were advised that dangerous crosswinds would impact the I-15 corridor in those areas and other roadways, including U.S. 89, I-80, U.S. 40 and U.S. 6.

Residents were also instructed to exercise caution and secure outdoor objects. The Bountiful Police Department issued advisory asking residents to:

• Bring grills into the garage.

• Bring patio furniture indoors.

• Trim dead wood and weak, overhanging branches from all trees.

• Secure trampolines by turning them upside down.

Outside objects such as trash cans and holiday decorations — especially inflatables — can become projectiles in high winds.

"Remember that debris such as broken signs, roofing material and small items left outside become flying missiles during high wind events," the police department warned. "Extensive damage to trees, towers, water and underground utility lines (from uprooted trees), and fallen utility poles can cause further disruption."

Residents should have flashlights, a battery-operated radio and spare batteries on hand in case of a power outage.

The winds were part of the storm that moved into Utah, bringing new snow in several areas in the mountains of northern Utah. 

Utah ski resorts — many of which close for the season Sunday — were not deterred by the high winds.  

Snowbasin remained open Monday, said Jason Dyer, the resort's marketing and public relations manager, because the high winds were not expected until after 2 p.m. and the resort closed for the day at 4 p.m. 

Located in Weber and Morgan counties, Snowbasin saw 3½ inches of snow as of noon, and winds at the top of the mountain reached 45 mph by 7 p.m.  

At 10 a.m., Canyons Resort in Summit County reported it had received 6 inches of snow. By 4 p.m., 10 inches had accumulated.

"We're thinking we might be in the range of a foot by the end of the day or evening," said Mike Goar, Canyons Resort's managing director.

Goar said he expects to see an increase of skiers through the week. 

"The timing of this is really terrific to freshen things up and give everyone another shot of powder," he said.

The 2011 wind storm knocked out power to thousands — some for days — and toppled thousands of trees. Infrastructure damage alone in Davis County — such as damages to city buildings, streetlights, power poles and traffic signals — topped more than $3.6 million.

E-mail: amyjoi@deseretnews.com, mromero@deseretnews.com

Twitter: amyjoi16, McKenzieRomero

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