Aug 2, 2022 - News

July brought new wind records to Salt Lake after a gusty spring

Illustration of a fan blowing on Earth.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Like the temperature, July's wind was also record-setting.

Why it matters: High wind in summer worsens wildfire danger, spreading flames and preventing fire crews from using aircraft to fight fires.

  • It kicks up dust, which can be hazardous, especially for people with health problems.
  • It also damages trees, reducing crucial shade amid warming temperatures.

Flashback: Remember a few weeks back, when ash began falling from the sky over Salt Lake City?

  • That was from a wildfire in Tooele County that was spread by wind and carried in thick clouds across the Oquirrh Mountains.
Note: Gale force winds are those above 39mph; Data: NOAA; Chart: Axios Visuals

By the numbers: The average daily peak wind gust in July was the highest of any calendar month since weather watchers began recording wind speeds at the Salt Lake City airport in 1954, according to Axios' analysis of federal wind data.

  • May, June and July posted the highest daily peak average of those respective months — and April had the third highest average of any April on record.
  • Gusts exceeded 39 mph — the definition of "gale" winds — on more days during the past four months than any four months on record.

How it works: When thunderstorms occur in drought conditions, the rain can evaporate before it reaches the ground, in what's known as "dry thunderstorms."

  • The evaporation cools the air, causing it to move downward and fan out into wind gusts.

What's next: Monsoon season typically ends in September, so August could be windy, too.

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