To Davis and Weber Counties
Welcome to Utah! Hill Air Force Base is in northern Utah’s Davis County, Gateway to the Great Salt Lake, and just south of Weber County, both counties are sandwiched between the Wasatch Mountains to the east and the lake to the west. At roughly 1,700 square miles, the Great Salt Lake is the largest inland body of salt water in the Western Hemisphere, but because it is so shallow its size shrinks or swells dramatically with the weather. Both Davis and Weber counties lie mostly east of the lake except for two islands — Davis County’s Antelope Island and Weber County’s Fremont Island — lapped by the lake’s briny waters.
As of July 2015, Davis County was home to more than 336,000 people, the U.S. Census says, with a third of them, 33 percent, less than 18 years old. Weber County had almost 243,650 residents. Davis County towns and communities near Hill Air Force Base include Clearfield, Kaysville, Layton, Sunset and Farmington, the county seat. In Weber County, county seat Ogden and Roy are the population centers.
Among their many historical and cultural attractions, both counties are dotted by sites on the National Register of Historic places, with more than 50 in Davis County and 60-plus in Weber County.
Those attuned to nature will fall in love with the breathtaking mountains, forests and Great Salt Lake, ideal for outdoor activities such as skiing, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding and camping. Museums and parks are among family-friendly attractions, and shopping, dining and nightlife are ripe for exploration. Every month seems to have its events and festivals, whether you’re creeping up on a ruby-crowned kinglet at a bird soiree or craning your neck to count colorful hot air balloons soaring overhead at the Ogden Valley Balloon & Artist Festival.
In the mid-1850s, Utah’s Territorial Legislature carved Davis and Weber counties out of lands, previously frequented by Shoshones, Utes and Paiutes, that were among the first settled by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These early settlers, also referred to as Mormons, arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1847 and established small farms, schools, homes, churches and shops.
Davis County was named after early pioneer leader Daniel C. Davis; Farmington is its county seat. It is the smallest county in Utah in terms of land area: only 223 square miles (though another 365 square miles of the county lies under the Great Salt Lake).
Until the Utah Central Railroad, now the Union Pacific, crossed the county from Ogden to Salt Lake City in 1870, Davis County grew slowly, but the railroad brought in manufactured products and new settlers and transported the area’s agricultural production to faraway markets. The energized comings and goings led to mechanized agriculture; increased commerce, banking and business; improved roads; new water systems; and, eventually, electrification of both homes and businesses.
By 1940, the population has grown to 16,000, and the government’s establishment of what became Hill Air Force Base in northern Davis County in 1940, as World War II began, was a boon for civilian employment. Between 1940 and 1950, the population doubled and continued to grow exponentially in the following years. By 1990, the population was 188,000; in 2000, nearly 240,000; by 2010, 306,486.
Today, Davis County has diversified from its agricultural roots and incorporates commercial, industrial, recreational and service companies into its economy.
Weber County was settled by colorful fur trappers, traders and mountain men drawn by the plentiful beaver lodges along the Ogden and Weber rivers. Two well-known trappers, Peter Skene Ogden and John Weber, who trapped beaver in the Ogden Valley and the area near present-day Ogden City in 1824, fell out over which had the right to trap there, but after 23 of Ogden’s men defected to the Weber side (along with 700 beaver pelts), Ogden and his party withdrew. Weber County and Ogden, its county seat, were named after these fierce early competitors.
The nation’s first transcontinental railroad, in 1869, gave Weber County an economic jump-start as Ogden became the main junction for transferring railroad cars, freight and passengers. The county saw growth in a number of industries, including woolen mills, canneries, flour mills, livestock yards, breweries, ironworks, banks and hotels, as well as telegraph, telephone and power companies.
World War II and the introduction of several military facilities also contributed to the county’s growth. Defense Depot Ogden and nearby Hill Air Force Base and the Naval Supply Depot provided many jobs for residents.
Today, leading Weber County industries include aerospace, manufacturing, health care and recreational companies, and Hill Air Force Base continues to be an important employer.
Weather and Climate
Utah is semiarid, with low humidity and generous sunshine, and its temperate climate allows for outdoor recreation year-round. In Weber County’s Ogden, the hottest month is July, with an average high of 91 degrees and an average low of 64. In January, the coldest month, the average high is 37 degrees and the average low is 21. Annual rainfall averages 19.15 inches, with the greatest amount, 1.97 inches, falling as April showers.
Farmington, Davis County’s county seat, is on par with Ogden as to temperature. July has an average high of 91 degrees and a low of 63; January’s top average is 36 degrees and its low is 22. Farmington, though, is a bit wetter than Ogden, with average annual rainfall totaling just under 22 inches.
Because the counties are next to the Great Salt Lake, they can be buffeted with deep lake-effect snow in winter. Cold westerly winds move across the lake’s warmer water and pick up water vapor, which freezes and falls as snow on the lands between the lake and the Wasatch Mountains to the east. Ogden gets, on average, just under 32 inches of snow a year; Farmington has more snowman potential with an average of 49 inches.
Every second counts in a disaster so planning and preparation can be lifesavers. Be Ready Utah is Utah’s official emergency preparedness campaign managed by the Division of Homeland Security. Be Ready Utah gives residents, communities, public safety professionals, businesses and schools valuable information and resources to deal with many different types of Utah emergencies, from earthquakes to wildfires. The website provides information on creating an emergency plan and emergency kit, pet preparedness and disaster preparedness for seniors. For more information, visit www.beready.utah.gov.
The following are considered significant hazards in Davis and Weber counties.
Utah is a seismically active region and no stranger to damaging earthquakes; it is important to prepare for them beforehand. Start by identifying potential hazards in your home. Secure top-heavy furniture to a wall and use earthquake putty on hanging pictures and mirrors. Secure objects on shelves that could become projectiles during an earthquake.
In an earthquake, remember: drop, cover and hold on. If you are not near a table or desk, drop to the floor against an interior wall and protect your head and neck with your arms. Avoid exterior walls, windows, hanging objects, mirrors and other objects that could fall.
For more information on earthquake preparedness, visit the Be Ready Utah website at www.utah.gov/beready/earthquakePreparedness.html.
Major floods in Utah generally result from rapidly melting snow in late spring and early summer that is swelled by thunderstorms. A flash flood watch is issued when flash flooding is expected within six hours after heavy rains have ended. A flash flood warning is issued for life- and property-threatening flooding that will occur within six hours. During a flash flood watch or warning, stay tuned to local radio or TV stations or a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio for updated information.
If you are outdoors during a rainstorm, move to higher ground. Avoid walking through any floodwaters — water just 6 inches deep or even less can sweep you off your feet. If you are driving, avoid flooded areas. The majority of deaths in flash floods occur when people try to drive through water across the road. Roads concealed by water may not be intact, and water only a foot deep can displace a vehicle. If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water can quickly engulf a vehicle and sweep it away.
For more safety information, visit the National Weather Service’s website at www.floodsafety.noaa.gov.
While more likely at certain times of year, thunderstorms can happen anytime. A severe thunderstorm can knock out power, bring high winds, lightning, flash floods and hail, and spin into a twister in seconds. Pay attention to storm warnings. Remember the rule: “When thunder roars, head indoors.” Once inside, avoid electrical appliances, plumbing fixtures and use only a cordless telephone in an emergency. Unplug your desktop computer. Do the same with other plugged-in electronics or use surge protectors. The National Weather Service recommends following the 30/30 Rule: People should seek shelter if the “Flash-to-Bang” delay — length of time in seconds from the sight of the lightning flash to the arrival of its subsequent thunder — is 30 seconds or less, and remain under cover for 30 minutes after the final thunderclap. Bear in mind that lightning is Utah’s No. 1 weather killer, according to the Utah Center for Climate and Weather. From January 1950 to August 2003, 57 people in Utah died from lightning strikes, compared with 26 from flash floods and one from tornadoes, the center says.
For more safety information, visit the National Weather Service’s website at www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov.
Davis and Weber counties are vulnerable to wildfires during the hot, dry summer months. The majority of wildfires in Utah are caused by humans (e.g., arson, recreational fires that get out of control, smokers’ carelessness, debris burning, fireworks and children playing with fire), but natural causes like lightning can also spark a wildfire.
Even when the fires themselves don’t threaten urban areas, their smoke and ash can foul air quality for hundreds of miles. Wildfires are impossible to forecast and unpredictable so preparation is vital. Be sure to visit the Firewise website, www.firewise.org, for information on wildfire preparedness, or the Be Ready Utah wildfire website at www.utah.gov/beready/family/wildfires.html.
Winter storms are to be expected in Davis and Weber counties, along with the possibility of heavy lake-effect snow from the Great Salt Lake. Prepare for winter storms by putting together a disaster supply kit for both your home and vehicle, and have your car winterized before the winter storm season arrives. Listen to weather forecasts and plan ahead.
A winter storm watch means a winter storm is possible in your area. A winter storm warning means one is headed for you. A blizzard warning means strong winds, blinding snow and dangerous wind chills are on their way. Avoid travel during these watches and warnings.
Winter storms can knock out electrical power. During a power outage, gather in a central room with an alternative heat source like a fireplace. Be sure to keep a screen around any open flame and don’t close the damper while the ashes are still hot.
During the day, open drapes and blinds to let the sun warm the space. Close them at night to minimize heat loss. If the indoor temperature drops below 55 degrees, open faucets slightly so they constantly drip to prevent pipes from freezing.
For more information on winter preparedness, visit www.utah.gov/beready/family/SevereWeather.html.