Westminster College closed its campus early Tuesday morning after hurricane-force winds swept through Salt Lake City— causing power outages and debris throughout city streets. Hours later, Mayor Erin Mendenhall signed an emergency declaration in response.
Winds reaching nearly 99 mph ripped through Salt Lake and the surrounding areas, knocking over trees, power lines, semi-trucks and outdoor furniture.
The strength of the winds depended on the area, according to the National Weather Service Salt Lake City Twitter (@NWSSaltLakeCity):
- Wind gusts up to 70 mph at the Salt Lake City Airport
- In Farmington wind speeds were reported at 95mph
- 98 mph at US-89 at Park Lane
- 89mph winds at the University of Utah
By early afternoon, several cities — including Salt Lake City — declared a state of emergency.
“Our urban forester has remarked that these are tornado circumstances, but instead of it being in the path of a tornado it is everywhere throughout the city,” Mendenhall said at a news conference Tuesday. “The destruction isn’t over.”
As a result, the storm left several without power.
More than 170,000 Utahns were left without power Tuesday afternoon, according to Rocky Mountain Power. However, several Westminster students updated their status on social media noting some dorm buildings still had internet access.
The wind storms are forecasted to continue throughout the day, although officials say it shouldn’t be as strong as the winds Tuesday morning. However, Utah will remain under a high wind warning until 9 a.m. Wednesday.
According to the NWS, wind speeds are predicted to continue with possible speeds of 40-50 mph through the evening.