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Windstorm of 2011 wins in pure speed, but 2020’s was much more widespread

Photo: Verlene Cole

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah– An arctic windstorm swept through cities across northern Utah on Monday night. The only other time Utah has seen a windstorm of such magnitude was in 2011. 

In 2011, the storm was considered a “down-slope wind.” It is a strong, gusty, and occasionally violent, wind that blows down the sheltered side, or lee side, from the prevailing wind.

The Salt Lake Valley is picking up the pieces after one of these windstorms caused a plethora of damage with more likely to come Tuesday night. 

More damage than 2011 windstorm

National Weather Service Meteorologist Christine Kruse said the windstorm was a “wider-scale” version of the windstorm in 2011. 

“That one had a maximum wind-gust of 102 MPH in Centerville,” she said. “[Today’s] only made it up to 99 MPH, just 3 miles an hour difference, but this was much more widespread–in the Salt Lake area in particular.” 

At the SLC International Airport, wind gusts hot almost 75 MPH, Kruse said. 

According to Kruse, the winds will pick up again Tuesday night but shouldn’t be like earlier. Winds could get over 75 miles per hour and be more localized, mostly affecting Farmington, Centerville, and the mouth of Weber Canyon. 

Unusual wind for this time of year 

The 2011 windstorm was in December, which Kruse says is a much more likely time to have this kind of wind. 

“What you need for a down-slope windstorm like this is really cold air coming from Wyoming and the Great Plains,” said Kruse. “It’s typically difficult to do in early September.” 

Kruse says it also explains the snow that hit the higher elevations and dusted the benches today.