A violent thunderstorm that rolled through Salt Lake County Tuesday evening had emergency crews on high alert at the Salt Lake International Airport after an Air National Guard plane on a training mission was hit by lightening, damaging a communications antenna that stretches from nose to tail, guard spokesman Capt. Christopher Foote said.
The KC-135, a large plane that provides in-flight refueling for other aircraft, had been in the air only about 10 minutes when it was struck, he said. The crew used an alternate communications systems to declare an in-flight emergency and returned to the airport.
“They landed uneventfully, with no injuries,” Foote said.
Foote was not sure how many were on board, but said a standard KC-135 crew is made up of three people.
The plane will be turned over to an Air National Guard maintenance crew for further inspection and repairs, he said.
The storm hit southern Utah first Tuesday, dropping .65 inches in St. George, but just .22 inches in Zion National Park, data from the National Weather Service shows. As it moved north, Beaver picked up .47 inches, Spanish Fork got .39 inches, and .55 inches fell mid-mountain at the Sundance Resort.
As the storm passed through the Salt Lake Valley early Tuesday evening, it brought high winds, booming thunderclaps and lightning, although NWS meteorologist Mike Conger said most of the strikes were “in cloud, not cloud to ground.”
“It was a very active day for showers,” said Conger. “It was awfully dry at the end of April, so it’s welcome.”
Among Salt Lake City-area communities, Holladay saw the most rain, with .30 inches, followed by Magna at .26 inches, Draper at .19 and Salt Lake City at .12 inches.
Lightning also struck a West Jordan house at 7491 S. Misty Hollow Way, scorching the satellite television dish. West Jordan fire received a call about the strike at about 6:40 p.m. and found that lightning had hit the home’s top gable, then traveled about 10 feet and burned part of the dish, said West Jordan Fire Battalion Chief Duane Paxton.
The cloudy and occasionally wet weather is expected to continue Wednesday for the entire state.
The National Weather Service predicts high temperatures Wednesday along the Wasatch Front will range into the upper-60s. Southern Utahns expect the same cycle of sunshine, clouds and rain showers while high temperatures hit the low- to mid-70s.
The Utah Division of Air Quality predicts “Green,” or healthy breathability statewide through mid-week.
The Utah Allergy & Asthma web site on Tuesday reported that maple, sycamore, mulberry and cottonwood pollens were at “moderate” levels.
Salt Lake City’s high temperature Wednesday is pegged at 68 degrees, the same as Tuesday’s forecast; Ogden looks for 67 and 68 degrees, respectively; Provo 67 and 68; Logan 68 and 64; Wendover 69 and 66; Duchesne 61 and 62; Cedar City 61 and 57; St. George 75 and 70; and Moab 63 and 70 degrees.
Reporter Bob Mims contributed to this story.