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Not 'Tornado Alley,' but how Utah dealt with rare storm threat

Posted at 5:16 PM, Aug 22, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns woke up to a risk of a tornado earlier Tuesday, albeit just a slim, two percent chance which decreased through the day on which unsettled weather swept across the state.

While the risk of a tornado has weakened, the National Weather Service says the chances of one occurring in the Beehive State does remain over zero percent.

It marks the first time since June 2020 that Utah has seen an above-zero percent chance of a tornado taking place, which definitely grabbed the attention of amateur and professional weather enthusiasts.

Clayton Ashcroft is a storm chaser down in southern Utah who spent part of his day chasing down in parts of Santa Clara and Ivins. He says it came as a shock Tuesday morning when he heard there was a small threat.

"It is different to hear a 2 percent possibility and to look at that cone, too. It goes from St. George all the way up to central and northern Utah," he said.

While Utah is decently far from Tornado Alley in the Midwest, the weather phenomenon is unheard of in the state.

"We average about three tornadoes per year, the most recent one being last year we had in Fruitland and an F-2 tornado, which is in Duchesne County," said Monica Traphagan with the National Weather Services, "so we do see them, rarely, but it's not unheard of here."

Longtime Salt Lake City residents remember the F-2 tornado that touched down in August 1999 which killed one person and injured 80 others. It was the most destructive tornado in the state's history, causing $170 million in damages.