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50-Foot Tree Goes Down in Front of the McKay Building

A 50-foot Colorado blue spruce tree was uprooted this afternoon on campus, barricading the west entrance of the David O. McKay Building.

An unusual February storm system hit the area throughout the late morning and early afternoon. At about 12:10 p.m. what appeared to be a tame storm turned into large gusts of wind, which knocked down the tree.

Lynnette Christensen, of the McKay School’s Center for the Improvement of Teacher Education and Schooling (CITES), explained as she gestured toward the tree and started laughing, “I was just typing away and thought I heard a truck passing by. Then I looked out . . .”

Student custodians were walking around the hallways doing their work when they noticed something on the ground. They investigated and were surprised at what they found.

“We were walking down the hallway and saw a huge amount of debris,” said student Renee Muniz of the custodial staff. The large tree completely blocked the west entrance to the McKay Building. It was a shock to everyone.

“We rounded the corner and I said ‘Oh my . . . that’s a tree,’” said Christy Thomas, another student custodian. The custodians immediately sent for their supervisor, who returned with caution tape to block off the area where the tree had fallen.

Paul Caldarella, an associate professor from CITES said, “I was in my office on the first floor and saw the wind pick up. I noticed the tree moving and I said, ‘That tree is going down.’ I called the dean’s office to tell them a tree had fallen.”

The uprooting was caused by a microburst. Microbursts are wind gusts that can reach speeds up to 60 mph in the air and 100 mph on the ground.

A branch of another tree broke off near the Eyring Science Center on campus and broke a light pole near the building.

February 18, 2016

Writers: Collin Smith and Jordan Comstock

Contact: Cynthia Glad (801) 422-1922