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Extreme weather, pingpong-size hail batters Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — The weather Wednesday in Utah? Cloudy with a chance of meatball-size hail.

"What's happening is there's a big high pressure over the Four Corners, and moisture circulates clockwise around that high, so it's coming right into Utah," said KSL meteorologist Kevin Eubank.

Areas throughout the state were pelted by a barrage of hail Wednesday, with some hailstones in areas of northern Utah measuring more than an inch in diameter.

Eubank said there were 40- to 50-mph winds in areas of Utah on Wednesday, but he has not heard reports of wind damage. However, crops and gardens around the state were battered by the hail, he said.

Areas of northern Utah also saw flooding. Wednesday afternoon, the Utah Department of Transportation warned motorists of standing water on both directions of U.S. 89 from 500 South to 2600 South in Davis County.

Debris slides on U.S. 40 forced the road's closure at milepost 57, which is 4 miles west of Fruitland, Duchesne County.

In Salt Lake City, the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for the Columbus burn scar north of the Capitol Building.

"Homes just below the burned area are expected to receive muddy flows into the neighborhood," according to a tweet from the National Weather Service.

A flash flood warning later went out from the National Weather Service to Salt Lake County, but officials quickly said the warning "was issued in error" and the area was instead under a small stream flood advisory.

Officials also warned that debris from a burn scar from the Tollgate Fire in Summit County could flow onto I-80 between the I-80 junction and Wanship, Summit County, as an expected half-inch of rain fell Wednesday evening.

In Coalville, Summit County, flash flooding swept a car off the road on the 1400 block of Chalk Creek Road, North Summit Fire District tweeted, adding that the occupants of the car were OK.

The National Weather Service also put out severe thunderstorm and flash flood warnings lasting through Thursday afternoon to several counties in the state.

In Utah County, flooding and mud slides in Diamond Fork closed more than 8 miles of Diamond Fork Road while county workers cleared the road.

After the storm started Tuesday night, southern Utah was the first to see severe thunderstorms, with Kanab and Springdale receiving between 1 and 2 inches of rain, Eubank said.

Areas throughout Utah received a barrage of hail on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, with some hailstones in areas of northern Utah measuring more than an inch in diameter
Areas throughout Utah received a barrage of hail on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, with some hailstones in areas of northern Utah measuring more than an inch in diameter
Scott Rees

In St. George, flooding on River Road forced the closure of Horseman's Parkway and 2800 South for a few hours early Wednesday.

"The waters are not receding, a foot or so below the River Road Bridge and fluctuating. Stay away from flood planes and river's edges. As interesting as these events may be, they aren't worth your life. Don't drive through areas where flooding is occurring either," St. George police warned on Twitter late Wednesday morning.

At Pine View Middle School in St. George, lightning Tuesday night "fried" the school's air conditioning system, said Steve Dunham, Washington School District communications director.

Though school remained in session, officials asked community members in the area to donate industrial-size fans to the school to help students keep cool.

At least three lightning-caused wildfires also ignited during storms Wednesday.

In southern Utah, a blaze began three miles east of Central, Washington County, and burned an estimated 20 to 30 acres. A fire in Israel Canyon near Saratoga Springs sparked Wednesday afternoon and officials said firefighters had "a good handle on it" by evening. And a 300-acre fire started west of Mona, Juab County, which firefighters expected to contain by night as rain kept it at bay, said fire information officer Jason Curry.

Wednesday evening, Utah Transit Authority officials said a lightning strike shut off a track switcher in South Jordan, limiting trains to one track through the area. Delays reached up to about an hour on FrontRunner trains between several northern Utah cities, according to UTA.

Thunderstorms were expected to continue through Wednesday evening but taper off by Thursday, when the high pressure is expected to move far enough away "so things will dry out," Eubank explained.