Utah's Winds
(Updated: August 20, 2006)

Southern Wasatch Front Bow Echo Wind Damaging Event, August 1, 2006


Utah
Winds
Winds at any location are the result of unequal heating and cooling of the earth's surface, pressure differences and topography. In Utah there are six major types of winds. The first four are named for the direction they come from and the last two are named after the phenomena that produces them. These six winds are:

Southerly Winds
Many times each year the western valleys of Utah experience strong southerly winds. These winds have been called "desert winds," because they usually bring warm air up from the southwestern deserts ahead of an approaching storm or cold front. One of the highest "desert winds" ever reported by a reliable weather observer was a 93 miles-per-hour wind gust that occurred on April 5, 1967 at Dugway.

Northerly Winds
The highest northerly winds recorded in Utah usually occur during or just after the passage of a strong cold front or low pressure system. One of the highest northerly wind gusts ever reported for a mountain location was 124 miles-per-hour on November 8, 1986 at Snowbird's Hidden Peak (at 11,000 feet above sea level). One of the highest northerly wind gusts ever reported for a valley location was 94 miles-per-hour on June 3, 1963 at the Salt Lake City Airport.

Easterly Canyon Winds
One form of topographic wind that creates serious problems several times each year is the "easterly canyon wind." These easterly winds usually occur when strong high pressure develops over southern Wyoming and deep low pressure develops over southeastern Nevada. When surface pressure differences are strong enough between the two areas, winds in excess of 74 miles-per-hour (or hurricane force) gust out of the canyon mouths along the western slopes of the Wasatch Mountains and cause significant damage in Cache, Weber, Davis, Salt Lake and Utah counties. On April 4, 1983, easterly canyon winds gusted over 100 miles-per-hour (103 mph at Ogden and 104 mph at Hill Air Force Base) and caused millions of dollars of damage to power lines, homes and personal property in those counties.

Westerly Winds
The highest westerly winds recorded in Utah usually occur during the passage of a strong cold front. One of the highest westerly wind gusts ever reported by a weather observer was one of 77 miles-per-hour on February 18, 1983 at Milford.

Thunderstorm Winds
The highest winds from thunderstorms are those usually associated with lines of thunderstorms called "squall lines." These squall lines or large thunderstorms occasionally produce strong downdraft winds called "microbursts." Because these microbursts flow out in all directions once they reach ground, many weather observers only record them as a directional wind (N,S,E,W) and not as a thunderstorm-related wind. Nevertheless, according to available records, one of the highest thunderstorm downdrafts or mircobursts ever recorded by a weather observer was a 121 miles-per-hour wind gust on May 31, 1994 at the Kimball Tower on the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

Tornadic Winds
On a few occasions, high wind speeds associated with or coming from tornadic activity have been recorded by weather observers. One of the highest recorded wind speeds associated with nearby tornadic activity was an 89 mile-per-hour wind gust that occurred on August 13, 1984 at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

Visible Measure of Wind Speed
In the absence of an anemometer (or windspeed instrument), the Beaufort Scale of Wind is a good reference for estimating wind speeds. The scale was invented in the early 19th century by Admiral Beaufort of the British Navy. Over the years the scale has been modified and refined as follows:

Visible Specifics

MPH

Calm, smoke rises vertically:

0-1

Direction of wind shown by smoke drift:

1-3

Wind felt on face, leaves rustle:

4-7

Leaves and small twigs in constant motion, light flags extend:


8-12

Raises dust, leaves and loose paper; small branches move:


13-18

Small trees in leaf begin to sway, crested wavelets form on inland waters:


19-24

Large branches in motion, whistling heard in telephone wires:


25-31

Whole trees in motion, inconvenience


felt in walking against wind:

32-38

Breaks twigs and small branches off trees,


impedes progress:

39-46

Slight structural damage occurs, chimney pots and slate removed:


47-54

Trees broken or uprooted,


considerable damage occurs:

55-63

Widespread damage:

64-73

Hurricane force, widespread damage:

74


Utah's Highest Wind Gusts (1910-2006)
     This compilation (below) lists the highest winds speeds (of 50 mph or higher) that were recorded or reported at specific Utah locations between January 1, 1910 and July 31, 2006. These wind speeds were obtained from the following sources:
     1) In July 1989, a scientific study was published entitled Utah's High Winds: Intensities, Frequencies and Distribution [1910-1988], which was authored by William J. Alder, R. Clayton Brough, Mark E. Eubank and Dale J. Stevens. This study covered recorded and reported high wind speeds and frequencies in Utah between 1910 and 1988, and relied heavily on historical documents and recorded weather observations.
     2) On August 1, 2006, another study (below) was produced entitled Utah's High Wind Gusts, 1910-2006, which was authored by Neil Opperman, Jared James and Sean Buchanan. This study covered recorded and reported high wind speeds in Utah between January 1, 1910 and July 31, 2006, and relied heavily on information found in the January 1989 to July 2006 Climatic Monthly Weather Summaries for Utah (which is issued monthly by the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Salt Lake City, Utah).

Utah's Highest Wind Gusts (in mph)
January 1, 1910 - July 31, 2006

Alta - 114 - December 15, 2000
Alpine - 80 - June 2, 1993
American Fork - 90 - June 5, 1995
Antelope Island - 65 - June 7, 2006
Aragonite - 61 - February 9, 1999
Bacchus - 62 - April 16, 2002
Badger Island - 79 - July 25, 2003
Badger Springs - 79 - March 21, 2000
Bear Lake State Park - 80 - May 26, 1998
Bear Lake Valley - 51 - July 4, 1996
Bear River Refuge - 60 - February 14, 2000
Beaver - 61 - July 14, 2002
Ben Lomond Peak - 61 - April 15, 2000
Bicknell - 61 - May 10, 2000
Big Indian Valley - 61 - April 18, 2000
Black Crook Peak - 83 - December 7, 2001
Blanding - 78 - June 20, 1996
Bloomington - 70 - August 29, 1993
Bluff - 52 - April 18, 2000
Bluffdale - 67 - June 21, 1999
Bountiful - 77 -May 3, 2001
Bountiful Bench - 120 - November 11, 1978
Brian Head - 108 - February 20, 1993
Brigham City - 113 - April 23, 1999
Brighton - 65 - March 21, 2000
Brimstone Reservoir - 75 - April 16, 2002
Bryce Canyon - 58 - March 31, 1999
Bryson Canyon - 69 - April 18, 2000
Buck Flat - 51 - August 11, 1998
Buckley Mountain - 101 - November 14, 2003
Bues Canyon - 70 - March 21, 2000
Bullfrog - 80 - June 2, 2003
Burmester - 69 - February 8, 2002
Callao - 93 - June 13, 2006
Canyonlands Natl. Park - 68 - June 11, 1992
Cardiff Peak - 95 - November 26, 1990
Cascade Mountain - 70 - April 13, 2005
Cedar City - 75 - February 18, 1983
Cedar Fort - 59 - April 3, 2003
Cedar Hills - 60 - April 16, 2002
Cedar Mountain - 83 - February 14, 2000
Centerfield - 58 - October 2, 1997
Centerville - 104 - December 15, 1988
Chalk Creek - 51 - April 15, 2000
Charleston - 60 - July 5, 1998
Chepeta - 83 - December 15, 2000
Clawson - 60 - June 9, 2002
Clearfield - 90 - May 19, 1996
Clive - 71 - June 7, 2006
Clover - 60 - April 16, 2002
Coalville - 87 - May 26, 2001
Collinston - 70 - March 4, 1991
Cottonwood Canyons Ridge - 100 - April 3, 2003
Cottonwood Heights - 70 - May 31, 1994
Crater Knowl - 51 - June 26, 1996
Croyden - 70 - February 9, 1999
Deep Creek Mountains - 80 - July 25, 2003
Deer Creek Dam - 71 - December 15, 2000
Deer Valley - 109 - February 9, 1999
Delta - 96 - June 1, 2001
Deweyville - 75 - June 5, 1995
Dixie National Forest - 75 - September 26, 1997
Duchesne - 80 - April 8, 1995
Dugway - 93 - April 5, 1967
Eagle Mountain - 66 - April 3, 2003
Eagle Range - 64 - June 15, 1987
Eastern Uintas - 56 - June 20, 1996
Elsinore - 59 - April 16, 2002
Emery - 80 - November 16, 1996
Enoch - 72 - April 16, 2002
Enterprise - 62 - October 31, 2003
Erda - 67 - February 9, 1999
Escalante - 94 - June 1, 2001
Eureka - 81 - May 13, 2004
Farmington - 90 - April 13, 1983
Farmington Canyon - 74 - April 15, 2000
Farnsworth Peak - 82 - June 18, 2004
Farr West - 54 - June 5, 1995
Ferron - 60 - January 13, 2002
Fillmore - 70 - April 16, 2002
Fish Springs - 57 - August 2, 1999
Five Mile - 52 - June 3, 1998
Flaming Gorge - 67 - May 24, 1990
Flat Top Mountain - 60 - March 30, 1999
Flowell/Holden - 80 - July 7, 1993
Flux - 69 - February 8, 2002
Francis Peak - 115 - April 21, 1984
Fremont Junction - 64 - April 15, 2003
Glen Canyon Dam - 81 - January 17, 1996
Grantsville - 69 - December 15, 2000
Great Salt Lake Marina - 81 - May 31, 1994
Green River - 70 - August 12, 1997
Gunnison Island - 77 - August 30, 1999
Hanksville - 63 - June 20, 1996
Harrisville - 60 - August 10, 1997
Hat Island - 87 - August 22, 2003
Heber City - 92 - May 26, 2001
Herriman - 72 - April 16, 2002
Highland - 90 - June 5, 1995
Hidden Peak - 114 - January 4, 2004
Hill Air Force Base - 104 - April 4, 1983
Holladay - 62 - April 3 2003
Hooper - 62 - May 13, 2004
Horse Hollow - 70 - April 16, 2002
Horse Ridge - 56 - September 19, 1999
Huntington - 50 - October 13, 1996
Huntsville - 50 - August 27, 1996
Hurricane - 70 - July 18, 1994
Ivins - 71 - March 20, 2000
Jensen Springs - 69 - April 16, 2002
Joe's Valley - 77 - April 7, 2000
Johnson - 60 - July 16, 1996
Joseph - 69 - July 7, 1993
Junction - 62 - April 3, 2003
Jupiter Peak - 95 - November 24, 1998
Kaysville - 100 - April 2, 1997
Kearns - 80 - July 7, 1984
King Point - 66 - April 19, 2001
Knolls - 83 - October 3, 1995
Knudsen's Corner - 65 - May 3, 2001
Koosharem - 56 - April 3, 2003
Lagoon - 60 - February 24, 1997
Lake Point - 65 - June 12, 2001
Lake Powell - 80 - July 15, 1990
Lakeside - 86 - May 21, 1986
Laketown - 63 - October 23, 2001
Larb Hollow - 51 - March 27, 2004
La Sal Mountains - 92 - April 20, 2001
Layton - 60 - August 26, 1998
Layton Bench - 85 - April 24, 2005
Leeds - 51 - November 14, 2005
Lehi - 80 - June 2, 1993
Lewiston - 71 - June 5, 1995
Liberty - 60 - July 5, 1994
Lindon - 51 - April 2, 1997
Little Cottonwood Canyon - 87 - January 4, 2004
Little Cottonwood Ridgeline - 106 - November 14, 2005
Lofgreen - 62 - February 28, 2006
Logan - 94 - July 4, 1986
Logan Canyon - 100 - April 4, 1983
Logan Peak - 95 - March 31, 1997
Lost Creek - 84 - April 16, 2002
Maeser - 66 - March 22, 1994
Magna - 80 - April 3, 2003
Manti - 60 - March 30, 1999
McCook Ridge - 53 - April 18, 2000
Meadow - 50 - March 30, 1999
Midway - 86 - May 26, 2001
Midvale - 55 - October 18, 2004
Milford - 80 - June 26, 1996
Millcreek - 67 - January 13, 1997
Moab - 80 - May 8, 1990
Moffit Peak - 60 - February 28, 2006
Molen - 52 - May 7, 2002
Monticello - 68 - March 31, 1999
Morgan - 52 - June 21, 1999
Moroni - 52 - May 11, 2000
Mt. Logan - 101 - November 24, 1998
Mt. Millicent Shoulder - 59 - May 3, 2001
Mt. Ogden - 108 - March 5, 1991
Mt. Pleasant - 50 - March 31, 1997
Mud Springs - 71 - April 16, 2002
Muskrat Springs - 72 - July 10, 1998
Naples - 72 - April 24, 1996
Neola - 59 - April 18, 2000
Nephi - 72 - June 1, 2002
Nordic Valley - 50 - May 17, 1997
North Kearns - 64 - February 22, 1996
North Ogden - 56 - January 27, 2001
North Orem - 86 - June 5, 1995
North Salt Lake - 85 - February 9, 1999
North Wig - 61 - August 2, 2002
Ogden - 103 - April 4, 1983
Ogden Bench - 120 - November 11, 1978
Ogden Canyon - 89 - April 2, 1997
Olympus Cove - 62 - January 2, 2006
Ophir - 54 - June 16, 1999
Orangeville - 71 - March 30, 1999
Orem - 92 - May 26, 2001
Otter Creek Reservoir - 91 - November 14, 2005
Page - 52 - April 11, 1998
Panguitch - 51 - March 3, 2006
Park City - 95 - December 12, 1995
Park City Gondola - 120 - January 22, 1982
Park Valley - 53 - January 15, 2006
Parley's Summit - 70 - September 23, 1992
Parrish Creek - 54 - April 15, 2000
Payson - 60 - June 1, 2002
Perry - 50 - November 11, 2002
Petersboro - 70 - November 24, 1998
Pinto Junction - 69 - April 16, 2002
Pintura - 75 - November 25, 2002
Pleasant Grove - 90 - May 26, 2001
Point of the Mountain - 68 - June 13, 2006
Powderhorn - 72 - December 15, 2000
Powder Mountain - 90 - November 27, 1996
Price - 74 - June 28, 2000
Promontory Point - 81 - August 22, 2003
Providence - 72 - November 24, 1998
Provo - 93 - May 26, 2001
Provo BYU Kimball Tower - 121 - May 31, 1994
Randolph - 71 - June 22, 1998
Rattlesnake Bench - 69 - October 31, 2003
Rays Valley - 61 - February 17, 1999
Red Dome - 54 - August 10, 1997
Richfield - 80 - September 17, 1989
Richmond - 62 - February 22, 1996
Riverton - 70 - August 21, 2001
Roosevelt - 63 - July21, 1993
Rosebud - 71 - March 25, 2006
Roy - 75 - August 20, 2001
Rush Valley - 80 - April 3, 2003
Saltair - 87 - March 27, 1995
Santa Clara - 79 - March 21, 2000
Sand Wash - 50 - April 18, 2000
St. George - 86 - May 14, 1984
St. John - 64 - July 25, 2002
Salt Flats - 73 - September 13, 2004
Salt Lake City - 86 - July 12, 1985
S.L.C. Int. Airport - 94 - June 3, 1963
Sandy - 80 - November 17, 1988
Santaquin Mountain - 67 - November 14, 2003
Sevier Reservoir - 61 - May 10, 2000
Sherwood Hills - 85 - January 4, 2004
Signal Peak - 93 - February 24, 1998
Smithfield - 84 - December 14, 1988
Snowbasin - 115 - February 9, 1999
Snowbird - 124 - November 8, 1986
Snowville - 62 - June 5, 1995
Solitude - 90 - March 31, 1997
South Jordan - 66 - February 9, 1999
South Mountain - 96 - April 16, 2002
South Ogden - 92 - December 15, 1988
South Salt Lake - 60 - March 16, 1989
South Weber - 72 - January 13, 1997
Spanish Fork - 50 - June 6, 2006
Springville - 94 - May 26, 2001
Stansbury Park - 66 - February 9, 1999
Starvation Reservoir - 52 - April 16, 2006
Stockton - 79 - April 16, 2002
Suncrest Ridgeline - 59 - September 21, 2004
Sundance - 120 - February13, 1995
Sunnyside - 60 - August 14, 2003
Sunset - 68 - December 15, 1988
Syracuse - 71 - July 9, 2004
Tavaputs - 67 - May 26, 1998
Taylor Canyon (E. Ogden) - 101 - April 23, 1999
Taylorsville - 80 - June 1, 2002
Telegraph Flat - 67 - October 31, 2003
Thiokol - 63 - January 28, 1991
Timpanogos Cave - 59 - February 17, 1999
Tony Grove Lake - 62 - April 15, 2000
Tooele - 93 - May 26, 2001
Toquerville - 50 - October 11, 2001
Tremonton - 95 - June 5, 1995
Trenton - 79 - April 18, 1987
Tridell - 60 - July 21, 1993
Tropic - 60 - June 10, 2004
Tule Valley - 67 - June 12, 2001
Uintalands - 60 - February 24, 1997
University of Utah - 78 - April 24, 1984
Venice - 64 - April 16, 2002
Vernal - 64 - July 12, 1995
Vernon (Hill) - 94 - June 30, 2000
Virgin - 77 - June 20, 1993
Virgin River Gorge - 60 - September 9, 1998
Washington Terrace - 50 - September 12, 2004
Wahweap - 70 - July 21, 1981
Weber State University - 110 - April 23, 1999
Wellington - 60 - August 11, 1997
Wellsville - 79 - April 18, 1987
Wendover - 82 - May 9, 1968
West Bountiful - 82 - July 5, 1994
West Jordan - 70 - June 13, 2006
West Kearns - 84 - June 5, 1995
West Valley City - 71 - May 3, 2001
West Weber - 65 - July 29, 2005
White Reef - 75 - June 16, 1998
Wildhorse Basin - 76 - April 20, 2001
Willard - 72 - July 4, 2006
Willow Creek - 74 - May 3, 2001
Wolf Mountain (Canyons) - 100 - November 16, 1996
Woods Cross - 80 - July 5, 1994
Yampa Plateau - 53 - October 23, 2001
Yuba Lake - 54 - May 7, 2002
Zions National Park - 101 - May 26, 2001

Wind-Chill Chart
The temperature of the air is not always a reliable indicator of how cold a person feels. Wind speed, relative humidity, sunshine, a person's clothing and metabolism also exert an influence on hold cold a person feels.

Wind has a chilling effect on the body by removing body heat from exposed flesh. On November 1, 2001, the National Weather Service released a new Wind-Chill Chart. For additional information and view of this new Wind-Chill Chart, visit: New Wind Chill Charts or Wind Chill Advisories.

Much of the information for this section originally appeared in the copyrighted book Utah's Weather and Climate, edited by Dan Pope and Clayton Brough, in 1996. UCCW Directors have received permission from the copyright owners of this book to reproduce such information on its website and to revise and updated it where appropriate.