Powered by Pacific Ocean moisture, a vicious storm front slammed through Utah Thursday afternoon. A microburst hit Hanksville, Wayne County, so hard that residents wondered whether they had been victimized by a tornado.
"It looked like it was going to rain," said Barbara Ekker, Hanksville. But winds whipped up, and "pretty soon you couldn't see across the street. Tree limbs and everything else were coming into the yard."Power went off in that southern Utah town. "The Kevin Hatch residence had a great big old, old cottonwood that fell over onto the power line," she said. Garkane Power crews managed to restore electricity at about 9:30 p.m., more than three hours after the storm hit.
An unoccupied 55-foot trailer rolled in wind gusts that were measured at 63 miles an hour. Air conditioners and swamp coolers were knocked off homes.
"Everybody's got tree damage - split fruit trees and everything," Ekker said. "It only lasted 15 minutes and it was over with."
William J. Alder, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service's Salt Lake Forecast Center, said his office issued seven severe thunderstorm warnings Thurs-day. "That's the most that we've ever issued in a day, that I can recall," he said.
The 2-year-old Doppler Weather Radar was able to spot dangerous conditions as they developed and alerts were broadcast on the electronic media.
As the storms swept through the state, witnesses reported hail of three-quarters of an inch in diameter in West Valley City, and of an inch and a quarter near Salt Lake City's 300 West and 700 North. Patterings of smaller hailstones hit from Salt Lake's Avenues to Park City.
Meanwhile, Alder said, heavy winds were recorded: 46 mph along the Bountiful bench, 78 mph in Blanding. Rainfall ranged from Kanab's 0.2 of an inch to 0.5 of an inch in Alta and 0.6 of an inch in Vernal.
Minor flooding struck Little Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City. "About a mile up the canyon, some water came across the road due to some heavy rain up in the canyon," he said.