LOGAN, Utah — Residents and workers are cleaning up storm damages as a windstorm hit Cache Valley starting Wednesday.
On Utah State campus, roofing materials flew off the Central Campus Housing building and into the parking lot. Wind speeds of 65 miles per hour caused multiple trees to snap in half at the Logan Cemetery.
In Adams Park, a tree fell onto a car and trees had fallen across the train tracks in Lewiston.
By 11 a.m., many of the smaller incidents were being cleaned up and removed, however at the North Logan home of Dorothy P. Bills, two 60-foot spruce trees were still being broken apart with chainsaws after one had fallen onto her garage.
“This is the third year that we have had trees fall in our yard,” Bills said. “My neighbors told me they thought they had heard an explosion.”
Bills said that she likes to stay up late, and at 12:45 a.m. Thursday morning, she had heard the crash and had gone outside to find the source of the noise.
“I turned on the lights, but it was so dark that I couldn’t see anything,” Bills said.
Nina, Bills’ daughter and next-door neighbor came over at 6:30 a.m. to tell her that the two trees had uprooted.
“I prayed all night,” Bills said. “Thank goodness it hit my house and not one of the other neighbors.”
Bills remained lighthearted about the situation, talking to everyone who visited her house and recounting the night before.
“I’m trying to stay calm,” she said. “I just tell myself, ‘You’ve gotten through this before and you can get through it again.’”
Preston Colver, an arborist helping remove the trees at Bills’ property, said that one of the biggest misconceptions he hears is that spruce trees are the most likely to topple.
“All trees are shallow-rooted,” Colver said. “There is no oxygen or water down in the roots, and spruce trees are really dense.”
Bills said that she was hoping to remove the trees in her yard this summer because she was worried that they would fall. However, Colver urges his clients to think twice about removing the trees, but rather to thin the branches and cause less of a wind barrier.
“If I thin the branches beforehand it reduces the windsail effect,” Colver said. “But 90 percent of the calls I get on a day like this are about spruce trees. In fact, right now my phone is ringing off the hook with people needing trees cleaned up. A lot of this can be prevented.”
All along 2200 North, multiple trees had snapped or uprooted and Logan officials were responding as quickly as possible.
During the graveyard shift at Rocky Mountain Care in Logan, a staff member inside the facility could hear the whipping and whistling of the wind. Suddenly, a sound unlike the others urged the staff member to investigate and what he saw outside were two large trees ripped completely from the ground, breaking the sidewalk and pavement as they were uprooted.
“I got the call from our maintenance director this morning,” said Forrest Fackrell, the executive director at Rocky Mountain Care. “We are so grateful that nobody was injured. It could have been much worse.”
The trees at Rocky Mountain Care, just off 1400 North, fell along the north side of the building into the parking lot away from the facility.
Just east of there, Bob Ward’s family had woken up to see a fallen pine tree uprooted in their front yard.
“We found it at about 6 a.m. this morning,” Ward said. “My wife and son swear they heard something last night, but I didn’t at all.”
Lisa, Ward’s wife reported the tree to the media and Ward has been in contact with the city, who he said has been busy all morning.
“We are feeling pretty lucky today,” Ward said about the tree which fell parallel to his home along the front yard and empty driveway.
“It could have fell into the house, into the neighbor’s home or onto the street,” Ward said. “Strangely enough, we’ve been wanting to remove this tree for a while and the stump is the hardest part. Now we don’t have to worry about that.”
Ward said that he hopes to have friends at his home later today to help remove branches and cut the tree into pieces.
Other locations in the valley weren’t as lucky as Ward and Rocky Mountain Care.
Fallen power lines have been reported from Lewiston to Hyde Park and crews have been at work since early this morning.
The high wind advisory for Thursday even led to the cancellation of the annual Logan City School District Fun Run. The race will not be rescheduled, according to district officials.
“There have been a few reports of trees landing on people’s cars, but that was about it for us,” said Logan Police Capt. Tyson Budge.
Steve Crosby of Logan Light and Power said that no high voltage lines were lost in the city but there was damage to about five services.
“A lot of people lost trees that didn’t hit their homes, luckily, so the city’s tree crews have been traveling around with their wood-chipper,” Crosby said. “We had to cut a line of power because two transformers were killed but overall, Logan fared really well.”
Rocky Mountain Power reported over 100 outages affecting more than 500 customers from Cache Valley to Salt Lake City. Clean up will continue into Friday and another weather advisory was issued at 2:07 p.m. Thursday for strong winds and hail.