A tornado tore through a residential neighborhood about 9 a.m. Tuesday, tearing roofs off houses and sucking sections of cedar fences into a whirlwind that carried debris more than four blocks away.
Sandy police and fire officials discovered no injuries after the twister's brief assault on the neighborhood. The number of homes damaged was uncertain, but observers said there were at least eight to 10."It looked like a war zone," one nearby resident said of the damage.
Gary Schaffer, 11607 S. 1380 East, said he was looking out his bedroom window when he saw a cloud of whirling debris pass in the street as hail pounded at the windows. "It felt like an earthquake. The house shook," he said. "It was almost like a locomotive came by."
His house was not damaged, but a 6-by-12-foot section of the roof on the house across the street lifted off and was dropped in the yard next door. The residents there, John and Kay Allen, 11606 S. 1380 East, were away from home at the time but got calls from neighbors and left work to survey the damage.
A team of meteorologists from the National Weather Service visited the neighborhood later in the morning while residents were cleaning up the damage. William J. Alder, meteorologist in charge of the weather service's Salt Lake office, said the randomly scattered debris led him to blame the damage on a tornado, rather than a less-intense micro-burst.
Sandy Fire Department Battalion Chief Don Chase said an investigation team of fire officials and city building inspectors was investigating damage to at least 10 homes shortly after the storm passed. But the residents of many of the homes were away at the time. Reports of damage were expected to increase once people started returning home from work in the afternoon.
Residents calling police reported hearing explosions with the intense storm. "You can get an explosion with both a tornado and a micro-burst," Alder said. A tornado scatters the debris in all directions," he said. "With a micro-burst all of the debris goes one way."
Polly and Robert Halford, 11645 S. Sanders Circle, had a camper bolt-ed to the driveway on the north side of their home. "The house actually shuddered, it was that bad," Mrs. Halford said. She found the camper sitting on its side in the middle of the street, which was strewn with shingles, cinder blocks and other debris.
Jane Jeffries lives a half-mile north of the damaged neighborhood. She said she saw shingles and pieces of pink fiberglass insulation swirling over her house. Her son, Vince, said he saw fire trucks passing each other in the street trying to find the damaged homes.