The big snowstorm Utah skiers have been craving moved into southern Utah Monday afternoon and was expected to make its way north, leaving up to three feet of snow in mountains in both ends of the state by mid-day Tuesday.
Weather forecasters expected the heaviest precipitation in southern and central Utah. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for most of south and central Utah through Tuesday afternoon.
Drivers were advised to avoid all unnecessary travel on Interstate 70 and Interstate 15 south of Santaquin, where blowing snow and accumulations of two to three feet of snow on some higher passes is possible.
"It's snowing lightly," said Brian Head ski resort spokesman Ron Burgess early Monday afternoon. "It is not as crazy as I expected yet, but we've been looking at the radar all day and it's just on the northern tip of us. It is coming north. Overnight, we got an inch and another four inches fell today and is supposed to keep coming. If we get hit pretty hard, we will probably open everything up by the weekend."
In Monticello, Pam Hanson of the San Juan Travel Council described the scene as "pretty white and snow coming down pretty hard. Roads are slushy, but they have been plowing."
Dana Courtright of Bryce Canyon National Park said four to six inches of snow fell near the park visitor center Monday morning with more expected. The Fairyland and Paria overlook roads will now be closed for the season but open to snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Even normally warm St. George wasn't expected to be spared.
Mark Struthwolf, a forecaster in the National Weather Service's Salt Lake office, said Utah's Dixie would get rain that could turn to snow. Zion National Park and Hurricane could receive between one to four inches of snow.
"It's going to wallop southern Utah," Struthwolf predicted.
Cold and blustery conditions coupled with light snow greeted Wasatch Front residents Monday morning, causing multiple minor traffic accidents.
Struthwolf said along the Wasatch Front, the storm hit Provo Canyon especially hard, dropping 16 inches by mid-Monday with more expected.
Avalanche danger there was rated as "considerable." Park City had five inches, Brighton four and Alta two, but the forecast calls for northern resorts to pick up between 14 and 24 inches by Tuesday afternoon.
"The moisture content is not that great," Struthwolf said. "We're getting a lot of fluff. We would have preferred to have more moist snow for a good base. Runs that don't have enough snow, this doesn't help that much."
Temperatures are expected to remain cold Tuesday with highs in the Salt Lake Valley in the lower 20s, though winds are expected to calm.
In Ogden, temperatures were low enough Monday morning to freeze a sprinkler head and cause a flood in a commons area at Ben Lomond High School, according to principal Ben Smith.
Students had to be sent home early, missing the last two class periods of the day. Smith said the sprinkler was exposed to freezing temperatures after high winds blew vent covers off part of the building that is being remodeled. Temperatures dipped to 14 degrees inside that part of school Monday.
In Salt Lake County, the Utah Highway Patrol reported 14 vehicle accidents with property damage Monday morning, several with minor injuries.
The forecast in northern Utah calls for partly cloudy skies Wednesday through Friday, with another storm expected to hit Saturday.
St. George can expect party cloudy skies on Wednesday, with a 20 to 40 percent chance of precipitation Thursday, and highs in the mid- to upper-40s. Rain is forecast for Saturday night and Sunday.