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Gusty winds make way for winter storm



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Dangerous winds have whipped across Utah for two straight days. Powerful gusts toppled trees, tipped over trucks and even stranded skiers on a lift. But the weather is changing quickly, and a snowstorm is blowing in.

In the valleys, wind gusts were recorded at more than 50 miles per hour Wednesday; on the mountain peaks, 90-plus mph.

On the Peruvian Express at Snowbird, ski patrol lowered riders off the chairs as they swung in the wind. Up to 70-mph gusts dislodged chair grips from the cables, and the lift automatically shut down.

"We started the evacuation process at about noon, and by 1:40 [p.m.], we had evacuated safely all 89 passengers that were on the Peruvian chair," said Jared Ishkanian, public relations director for Snowbird Ski Resort.

Snowbird says everyone kept their cool. They plan to fix and test the chair Thursday.

In Salt Lake, it was a green air quality day. But it sure looked awfully brown as dust shrouded the city.

A tree came crashing down onto an apartment building at 700 East and 800 South, without causing too much damage.

At Shana Allred's home in Eagle Mountain, she's certain every tumbleweed in town blew up against the back of her house. She lives on 70 acres of open fields.

Out on the interstates the only thing worse than the visibility was the cross winds. The second trailer on this Pepsi truck rolled into the median, but no one was hurt.

Other truckers cooled their engines. "Snow, you can slow down. Bad roads, you can slow down. Wind, boom! All of a sudden a gust will come up, and I've had friends that have been blown over," said truck driver Doug Sherman.

For FrontRunner North, high winds blew down a high voltage power line owned by Rocky Mountain Power. It fell across railroad tracks and shut down service for two hours.

Wednesday evening the wind died down across the region, making way for rain. According KSL meteorologist Kevin Eubank, rain will turn to snow sometime overnight.

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Story compiled with contributions from Jed Boal and John Daley.

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