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Powerful Winds Sweep Across Utah

April 24, 1999

BRIGHAM CITY, Utah (AP) _ Winds gusting to more than 100 mph swept across northern Utah today, overturning 20 tractor-trailers, knocking out power to as many as 10,000 customers and forcing schools to close.

Strong winds are common in Utah during the spring and fall. But Friday’s windstorm was the strongest in 15 years, said William Adler, a National Weather Service forecaster.

A 113 mph gust was recorded at the Brigham City Airport at about 1 a.m., with sustained winds reaching 72 mph early in the day. Police estimated damage to the airport at more than $750,000.

By evening, gusts of up to 80 mph were still being reported at the Brigham City Airport, but had died down some across much of the rest of the region, giving residents and power crews a chance to clean up.

As many as 10,000 customers were without power at some point Friday, and crews were hoping to have power completely restored by Saturday morning, said Dave Eskelsen, spokesman for Utah Power, said

``We’re still battling with it. I think now that the winds dying down a little bit our repairs will go a little faster,″ he said. Gusty winds made repairs dangerous and knocked out service to areas workers had just repaired.

Twenty tractor-trailers were blown over on Interstate 15, the state’s main north-south road. Trucks were banned from the highway.

In Ogden, a crane on top of the municipal building fell onto the roof. Its 500-pound wrecking ball landed on the city jail, forcing office workers to evacuate. No inmates escaped.

``I saw it swinging from the north after I caught movement out of the corner of my eye,″ Sheriff’s Chief Deputy A.K. Greenwood said. ``I thought, whoa, that baby is on the move.″

The wind also uprooted trees and tore shingles off roofs.

Fourteen schools called off class because of power outages and minor damage.

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