Storm arrives, bringing snow, road closures to Wasatch Front
By Jennifer Dobner
and Janelle Stecklein
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Jan 27 2013 10:03AM
A potent winter storm brought northern Utah residents relief Sunday from the weeks long polluted inversion, blanketing streets and sidewalks from Salt Lake City to Logan with more snow than expected.
The storm hit with force about 2 p.m. Sunday, clogging roadways and causing delays at Salt Lake City International Airport, which set a snowfall total record for Jan. 27 of 8.3 inches. The previous record, set in 1980, was 5.1 inches, said National Weather Service forecasters.
The storm was the second "upside down" event of the season, with generally more snow falling in the valleys than in the mountains, forecasters said.
"The front stalled and didn’t progress as far to the east, so the heavier band of precipitation was over the valleys not over the mountains," meteorologist Mark Struthwolf said. "[The resorts] will look at it as if they got cheated."
Don’t count them out, however, Struthwolf said. Snow was expected to continue to fall overnight, raising overall totals by morning, when the winter weather warnings and watches are set to expire.
Monday’s forecast was for a break in the snow and cloudy skies, with another storm expected to arrive by evening.
"Don’t put your shovels away," Struthwolf said.
Appropriately, northern Utah’s Snowville got the most new snow of any city on Sunday with 14 inches. Ibapah trailed just behind Snowville with 13 inches and Bountiful got 12 inches, information from the weather service shows.
Among Utah’s resorts, Powder Mountain had the most new snow, with 9 inches. Snowbasin and Brighton got 6 inches, while Alta and Snowbird both reported 4 inches of new snow.
The storm created hazardous driving conditions by early afternoon on all area roadways, including Interstate 15. One fatal Sunday morning crash on Interstate 80 in Tooele County was being blamed on icy roadways.
The Utah Department of Transportation closed Sardine Canyon — between Brigham City and Logan — in Cache County for more than two hours and then restricted travel to vehicles with chains or all-wheel drive. The same restrictions were in place for vehicles traveling along Interstate 80 through Parleys Canyon and through both Big and Little Cottonwood canyons.
The Utah Highway Patrol said its officers responded to a combined 74 crashes in Davis, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber counties. Only nine of those involved injuries. Troopers were busiest in Davis County, where there were 40 crashes and another 28 slideoffs.
Interstate 15 was closed for more than an hour Sunday evening after a semi traveling too fast for conditions hit the median barrier and jack-knifed, blocking three lanes of traffic, the Utah Highway Patrol said.Rapid snowfall also created flight delays of up to 75 minutes at the airport, where runways were temporarily closed on a rotating schedule to allow for plowing, airport officials said in a Twitter message.
Also on Sunday, the Utah Avalanche Center issued an avalanche watch for the mountains near Logan, where heavy snow and strong winds were overloading the slopes at all elevations in the backcountry.
For those hoping to take advantage of the fresh powder with some backcountry skiing, the Utah Avalanche Center said most of its forecast areas — Ogden, Salt Lake, Provo, Uinta and Skyline — were under "moderate" avalanche warnings.
The Logan and Moab ranges were under a "considerable" avalanche rating.
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality forecast improving air-quality conditions on Monday and Tuesday.