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How do severe weather and flood warning reach the homes in Utah? What type of weather is most dangerous or damaging in Utah?
Good springtime questions and it's always good to review severe weather information. Weather watches and warnings are all issued by the National Weather Service. Our office in SLC covers most of the state of Utah with the Grand Junction CO office covering extreme Eastern UT.
When warnings are issued you can get them a couple of ways. Some tv stations run a crawl on the bottom of your screen and sometimes local programming will be interrupted for a warning as well. Also, some radio stations will mention warnings too. The other way to make sure you get warnings all the time is to have a NOAA weather radio. You can get one of these and program it so it only alerts you for warnings in your county or surrounding county.
NOAA weather radios are the best way to get severe weather information, they are effective and save lives. People living in severe weather areas of the country (the midwest) should all have one of these. In Utah where the weather is more calm it's not 100% necessary but they are definitely recommended. You can usually get them on sale or sometimes for a lower cost if a store is trying to outfit a community with them.
When warnings are issued, broadcast meteorologists (like us here at KSL) will take that information and pass it over to you. If the warning is a tornado warning we will interrupt programming to give you the latest. If it is a severe thunderstorm warning and effecting a lot of people and the thunderstorms are damaging, we will also break into programming. We try to make it brief but also give you the latest information on the storm.
Watches are issued when bad weather is likely going to happen. Warnings are for actual storms that are occuring. A severe thunderstorm will have winds of 58 mph or greater or hail of 3/4 inch or greater. In Utah we do get our share of severe weather and even tornadoes!
Utah's biggest weather risks are different than in other states. Flood damage from thunderstorms or rapid snow melt are probably two of the most damaging types of weather in the state. The other is dangerous type of weather is lightning. Lightning is Utah's number 1 weather related killer and has taken the lives of 48 people since 1950.
From the National Weather Service, they say in 1918 on Millcreek Canyon Peak in American Fork, lightning killed 654 sheep! In the midwest, lightning kills farm animals yearly, it's a dangerous thing!
Answered by KSL Meteorologist Dina Freedman.