KEY POINTS

  • The National Weather Service said winds in northern Utah averaged 75 mph and gusts nearly peaked at almost 100 mph
  • Nearly 180,000 customers were without power and Gov. Gary Herbert warned recovery could take days
  • The windstorm is the predecessor of a forecast cold-front hitting the Rockies in the coming week

Utah suffered from widespread power outages and damage Tuesday after hurricane force winds ripped through the state’s northern counties.

The National Weather Service said the windstorm was part of a cold-front pushing through the Rockies, bringing with it cooler temperatures and chances for snowfall across Utah and neighboring states like Colorado and Wyoming. Winds around northern Utah averaged 75 mph, with the NWS saying the strongest gusts reached 99 mph.

University of Utah reported gusts around the school hit 112 mph.

“If you live in an area impacted by today’s high winds, please stay home to stay safe,” Gov. Gary Herbert said on Twitter. “We are working to keep critical infrastructure open. When it is safe to do so, help with cleanup in your local area. (This may not be until tomorrow.)”

Rocky Mountain Power said the devastating winds left over 179,000 customers without power.

The winds also brought down multiple trees and power lines across the region, causing damage to surrounding roadways and homes. In turn, it caused delays along U.S. Highway 89 and Interstate 15, both of which run through Salt Lake City.

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said in a press release eight “historic” trees outside the Utah Capitol Building in Salt Lake City were ripped from the ground by the winds.

Multiple schools districts canceled classes, as well, after the windstorm hit around 7:30 a.m. Monday. No students would have been in danger as most schools in the state were holding classes online due to coronavirus. However, the closures meant many students would not get meals until Wednesday at the earliest.

Salt Lake City Salt Lake City, Utah, on Jan. 27, 2012. Photo: Reuters