SLCPD Capt. Derek Diamond shares memories of F2 tornado in downtown Salt Lake City 22 years ago

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Aug. 11, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake City Police Department shared a video Wednesday with a Captain’s memories of the F2 tornado that ripped through the city on Aug. 11, 1999.

“An F2 tornado touched down in #SaltLakeCity — killing one person and injuring 80 others,” a tweet said. “Capt. Derek Dimond was among the first to see the tornado while out on SWAT training. He shares his memories from that day.”

The tornado moved northeast through downtown Salt Lake City.

“So I was a member of the Salt Lake City police SWAT team at the time, we were conducting some SWAT training up at the old National Guard armory on Sunnyside Avenue,” Diamond said. “We were standing outside right after lunch and looked across the valley, and we could see where the Delta Center… it looked like it was on fire.”

He added: “We saw some big sheets of maybe plywood go flying around and the guy I was with, Rick Findlay, says that’s a tornado, that’s not a fire. So we quickly grabbed radios, got on the radio, and he keyed up and said: ‘hey it looks like there’s a tornado in downtown Salt Lake City, ’round the Delta Center,’ and keyed off the mike to listen for dispatch, and at the same time there was actually an Outdoor Expo that was going on in the Delta Center area and the guy that was down there, keyed up immediately after Rick keyed off and was yelling, there’s glass flying everywhere, there’s glass coming off of the Delta Center.”

Diamond said he also recalled a couple of houses specifically that had had the whole front porch uprooted in one piece and deposited a couple of houses away.

“It was a massive event, obviously, it was a snap of the fingers and a normal day’s training turned in to mayhem; officers were coming in from all over the state, we actually had people from other outside agencies, fire departments,” Diamond said. “Once we realized what was happening, we had wrapped up our SWAT training and the SWAT team basically responded to the Avenues, is where we ended up for the duration of the event because that’s where the primary amount of damage to homes and such took place, so we were there to make sure no one was up there looting.”

Diamond added: “After the initial craziness of the event, the city, the police officers, the firefighters, got together and we had a really good plan, we were taking care of people who were injured, amazingly there was only the one fatality.”


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