WEATHER

Strong winds in the Utah forecast again, meteorologists say season has been extremely windy already

Apr 26, 2021, 7:55 AM
utah winds...
Utah Department of Transportation crews help clean up downed trees in the Rose Park neighborhood of Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. Residents and utility companies are continuing to clean up after severe winds hit the Wasatch Front on Tuesday and Wednesday, leaving hundreds of thousands without power. Spencer Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY – Weather watchers are issuing another Utah winter weather advisory, as they predict a significant amount of moisture and high winds in the northern part of the state.  Meteorologists say the weather this past year has been especially windy, as we’ve seen more high wind events than normal.

Last September, wind gusts were reaching past 100 miles an hour, toppling hundreds of trees, headstones and causing lots of property damage.  Some Salt Lake City residents say it caused the same kind of damage the 1999 tornado did.

Back in January, another wind event gave us gusts close to 70 miles an hour, delaying schools and toppling even more trees.

Even just a couple of weeks ago, the National Weather Service issued a high wind warning.

KSL Meteorologist Kevin Eubank said, “It feels like we keep having more and more of these wind events, and they’re not little events. These are 60, 70, 80 or 90 mile an hour events that are tipping over trees and causing property damage.”

In fact, Eubank said this is the windiest spring that Davis County has ever seen, with 18 days having gusts of 30 miles an hour, or stronger. Does this mean we can keep expecting more strong winds in Utah?  Not necessarily.  Eubank said climate models that look a month ahead do nothing to predict wind. However, Eubank can guarantee that any wind will be bad during the fire season. 

“Any time you have an epically record-breaking drought and you deal with summer temperatures, any amount of wind is going to exacerbate the fire conditions,” he said.

Of course, no one can predict exactly how bad fore season will be.  It’s possible we could have a very wet spring, which would bring fire potential down, considerably. However, National Weather Service Meteorologist Christine Kruse said that’s doubtful.

“There’s nothing that say we’ll change the pattern. We’re staying active, which is good, but there’s nothing that we’re seeing that said it’s going to be a markedly wet spring,” she said.

Oddly enough, dry soils sometimes boost wind speeds.

Kruse said, “One thing we’re watching is that soil moistures are at near or record lows and when the soil is really dry, you tend to see an increase in wind.”

Some of the most destructive winds come in the form of downslope winds, which happens when cold dense air gets pushed from the east over the mountains, and it picks up speed going down the slopes. Kruse said we’ve had several of those this year, but not necessarily an abnormal amount.

“About 2.5 years or so, that’s the average over the last 67 years, we see these downslope wind events pretty regularly. This year, we’ve had four to five, depending on what criteria you use.”

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Strong winds in the Utah forecast again, meteorologists say season has been extremely windy already