Thursday, December 1, 2011

History of Canyon Winds Along The Wasatch Front

By Lynn Arave

These horrendous, hurricane force canyon winds along the Wasatch Front are nothing new.
In fact, from 1959 to 1999, there were 26 such occurrences of damaging east winds.
The previous one was April 23, 1999. So, they averaged about every 18 months for 4 decades and then disappeared for more than 12 1/2 years until Dec. 1, 2011.
So, we were overdue by statistics.
(Technically, they are "downslope winds.")
The Mormon Pioneers first reported them in the fall of 1848. Brigham Young rebuked some canyon winds in Farmington on Nov. 9, 1864.
The year 1988 featured a record three such east wind events. There were also two such hurricane force canyon wind events in 1964, 1973, 1983, 1986 and 1997.
April 2, 1973 featured some of the strongest, sustained canyon winds I can recall. Those winds picked up a pole vaulting "portapit" mat and carried across Weber State University's Wildcat stadium as if it was cardboard.
Also, I decided to time myself in a 100 yard dash during those April 2, 1973 winds and clocked 10.4 seconds easily with a 90 mph wind at my back.
In 2011, this is the first ever canyon wind event to test the icicle style of Christmas decorations, for example.
We forget that these winds are a periodic part of nature along the Wasatch Front.
When I constructed my wooden fence in 1984, I purposely made it strongest on the east facing sides to withstand such winds better.

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