Cloud of dust, salt settles over Salt Lake City
A series of severe thunderstorms in the west desert by the Great Salt Lake are being blamed for a cloud of dust and salt that settled over the Salt Lake Valley on Friday evening.
A visible cloud of brown, as well as the pungent smell of salty air, came into Salt Lake City at about 6 p.m., but meteorologists at the National Weather Service said the cloud would pass by the end of the evening.
According to meteorologist Christine Kruse, a large batch of showers and thunderstorms formed over the west desert earlier in the afternoon. When the storms died down, a large outflow rushed in to take their place, causing huge gusts that carried the desert's dust and salt into the valley.
The weather service recorded gusts as high as 55 mph at the Salt Lake City International Airport. Strong gusts in the 50s also were recorded at the University of Utah, West Jordan and on Legacy Parkway.
The weather service also said it had gotten reports of haze and dust in Park City and other Wasatch Mountain Valley areas.
Kruse said the wind would likely clear the valley by the end of the night, but warned drivers that visibility on the roads was very low in the meantime.
The gusty winds were assumed to be a factor in a power outage in the Capitol Hill and Federal Heights areas of Salt Lake that affected approximately 7,300 customers. By late Friday night, that number went down to about 2,100 customers. The outage began at about 6 p.m. Friday, according to Rocky Mountain Power spokeswoman Maria O'Mara. Crews working to repair the outage reported downed lines, which O'Mara said could have been knocked over by wind. The company's website estimated that power wouldn't be restored until about 1 a.m. Saturday.