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Why are there such crazy winds today? Here’s what we know

Salt Lake City and much of northern Utah saw heavy winds rush through the state. Here’s why

Strong winds blew a tree over in Salt Lake City near the 1800 south block of 200 East early Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020.
Strong winds blew a tree over in Salt Lake City near the 1800 south block of 200 East early Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Strongs winds have wreaked havoc in northern Utah today, causing widespread damage and power outages.

Some of the wind speeds recorded include:

  • 97 mph at Logan Peak.
  • 70 and 80 mph in Davis, Box Elder, Weber and Cache counties.
  • 97 mph in Farmington.
  • 91 mph in Salt Lake City.

Why is it happening?

The winds come from “downslope winds,” which begins when cold, dense air moves in from the eastern side of the Wasatch Mountains, according to the National Weather Service.

  • Easterly ridge-level winds push the cold, dense air over the ridge tops and against a slope. The dense air will then head down the slope, picking up speed as it goes.
  • Wind speeds reach their highest point when the air reaches the valley below.

The storm is strong for this time of year, which means there could be record cold temperatures, according to the NWS’s Situation Report.

The record cold temperatures come as a winter storm works its way through Colorado as well. Rain is expected in western Colorado and eastern Utah. Snow could appear in high-elevation areas, KSL.com reports.

What next?

As the Deseret News reported, the NWS said residents should expect winds to hit peak levels between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. and then “start to decrease to widespread gusts between 40-50 mph. Wind will ramp up again this evening.”