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Winter storm warning in effect until Sunday

Published November 9, 2012 9:50 pm

Winter storm brings cold winds and a lot more snow than expected, leading to power outages and numerous car crashes.
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A potent winter storm, which blustered into the state early Friday on gusts as high as 85 mph, caused crashes and power outages throughout the day as it dumped more snow than expected on valley floors. The National Weather Service said more heavy snow is expected through early Sunday.

A winter storm warning remains in effect until 5 a.m. Sunday for the Wasatch Mountains, Western Uinta Mountains, Wasatch Plateau and Book Cliffs, and the central mountains of Utah. Those areas could see one to two feet of snow through the weekend.

Snow accumulation on valley floors from Ogden southward came sooner and was heavier than predicted due to the early arrival of cold air Friday, the weather service said. By evening, Tooele had reported more than 10 inches of snow on its benches, eclipsing the 6 inches reported a couple hours earlier from West Jordan, according to the agency. Snowbird was reporting 8 inches at mid-mountain.

On Saturday, a warm Great Salt Lake is expected to bump up snow totals through the phenomenon known as lake effect.

Weather service forecaster Steve Rogowski said the lake is expected to result in heavy snow through Saturday morning in Davis and Weber counties and northern Salt Lake County. Another lake effect band is expected to develop in Salt Lake and Tooele counties Saturday night and into Sunday morning.

"Meantime, northwest-facing terrain will be seeing snow showers as well," Rogowski said.

The storm is predicted to move out of the area Sunday afternoon, leaving behind sunny skies and warmer temperatures.

On Friday, the premature snowfall made the morning commute slow and soggy. The Utah Department of Transportation announced early in the morning that Salt Lake County's Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons are restricted to 4-wheel drive or chains until further notice.

Big Cottonwood Canyon Road was closed for about four hours after a power line fell across the road near 13000 East (around Guardsman Pass). The line went down just before 7 a.m., according to Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal.

Several crashes Friday morning closed portions of Interstate 15 in Utah County. And the Utah Department of Public Safety reported that by 8 p.m., Utah Highway Patrol troopers had responded to 93 crashes in Utah, Salt Lake and Davis counties. Fifty-seven accidents were reported in Salt Lake County, 31 in Utah County and an additional five crashes reported in Davis County.

According to Rocky Mountain Power, Cedar City, Orem, Draper and Ogden experienced power outages earlier in the day, but as of 8 p.m., power had been restored.

The top wind gust reported preceding the storm was 85 mph at the Jupiter sensor at Park City Mountain Resort. Gusts of 50 mph were clocked in Riverton and Olympus Cove, while Centerville and Bluffdale were buffeted by winds of up to 47 mph.

Salt Lake City is expecting a high of 36 degrees Saturday, with Ogden and Logan slightly cooler at 35 degrees. The high for Cedar City is expected to be around 34 degrees, while St. George will see mostly rainy weather and highs of around 48 degrees.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller Tooele