Utahns braced for a decidedly un-springlike storm system laden with rain and snow that forecasters expected to settle over the state by late Thursday.
The approaching storm had emergency officials statewide crossing their fingers against flooding fears, since winter snowpack was well above normal in many locations and rivers and streams were already swelling with runoff.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm advisory, beginning Thursday afternoon and extending through Sunday morning, for a swatch of Utah stretching from Logan in the north and running south through Brigham City, Ogden, Salt Lake City, Park City, Provo and Nephi, Price and Richfield.
Ushered in by increasingly strong winds gusting to 30-40 mph, the storm was forecast to drop 1-2 feet of new snow on the Wasatch and western Uinta mountains. Precipitation in lower elevations was expected to initially be in the form of rain — heavy by the time of the Thursday evening commute — though that could turn to snow through the weekend.
Forecasters issued a more serious winter storm warning for southern Utah beginning at noon Thursday and extending through Sunday morning, putting residents of St. George, Milford, Escalante and Bryce Canyon on alert. Southern Utah mountain snow totals were forecast to be in the 2-4 foot range with heavy rainfall in the valleys.
Winds gusting to as high as 50 mph were predicted for southern Utah as the storm built throughout Thursday afternoon and into the evening.
The Utah Department of Transportation warned that winter-driving conditions could prevail beginning Thursday night and continuing through Saturday and Sunday for higher elevation roads, especially in southern Utah at elevations of 9,000 feet and higher.