After a brief reprieve, more snow expected Wednesday in Utah
The tail end of a storm that began pounding northern Utah last weekend snarled commuter traffic again Tuesday morning, and a last blast due is due on Wednesday.
The National Weather Service reported accumulations of 6 inches or more in some Wasatch Front valleys, although Salt Lake City escaped the brunt of the storm Tuesday.
"We've been sort of spared in the bottom of the valley," said NWS lead forecaster Pete Wilensky. Weber and Utah counties were harder hit: North Ogden reported 9 inches, while 8 inches fell in Lehi as of about 1 p.m.
Snow totals ranged from a whopping 24 inches at Liberty, in North Ogden Canyon, to slightly less than 2 inches in Salt Lake City.
More snow was predicted all day Wednesday for northern Utah, with highs in the mid-30s and lows in the upper-20s. A winter storm warning for heavy snow and wind remains in effect until 4 a.m. Thursday for high-elevation areas such as Alta and Brighton, where up to 3 feet of snow is possible. The warning also applies to Ogden and Morgan valleys, where 6 to 12 inches are possible.
Southern Utah had a milder forecast. Although mountains were expected to see some snowfall, lower elevations looked for highs in the 40s to low-50s Wednesday under breezy, partly cloudy skies. Overnight lows were expected to hover around 30 degrees.
The extended forecast for Salt Lake City calls for partly sunny skies on Friday, with a high of 34 degrees, and mostly cloudy on Saturday and Sunday, with highs around 33. No storms are expected through Tuesday, which could create conditions for an inversion. But Wilensky said cloudy skies could keep it from becoming too heavy.
Tuesday's lighter snowfall in Salt Lake County was a slight reprieve for public works departments that struggled to keep up on Monday.
Kevyn Smeltzer, director of operations in Salt Lake County's public works department, said his agency's 75 snowplows have been busy since the storm began, clearing major streets, feeder roads and working their way into neighborhoods.
"We have received hundreds and hundreds of calls about slick streets from residents" of unincorporated Salt Lake County plus the three cities Cottonwood Heights, Holladay and Taylorsville whose roads are cleared by county plows, he said.
County Mayor Ben McAdams said he felt crews "have done a pretty good job of getting into neighborhoods" to clear those streets, but acknowledged "that one of the challenges is when it comes, it all comes at once. â¦ We have no opportunities to chip away."
County crews are running out of places to deposit plowed snow in some Olympus Cove cul de sacs, Smeltzer said. But the county has not yet had to haul any away in dump trucks, as it did in the snowy winter of 1993.
Salt Lake City also has been operating its 45 trucks round the clock. Mayor Ralph Becker said the back-to-back storms "created conditions that will impede our recovery time."
Both mayors asked residents to move cars off streets when it's likely snowplows will be coming. And they encouraged people to keep sidewalks free of snow and help neighbors who might not be able to shovel.
By late afternoon on Tuesday, the Utah Department of Transportation had lifted travel restrictions in Big Cottonwood and Parley's canyons east of Salt Lake City and Sardine Canyon near Logan. Four-wheel drive or chains were still required for Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Far fewer accidents, compared to the hundreds of last week, were reported Tuesday, but a crash in northeastern Utah left a woman critically injured. Utah Highway Patrol Cpl. Todd Johnson said the woman lost control of her westbound car on State Road 30 near Bear River at 8:38 a.m., sliding into the path of an eastbound vehicle.
The driver of the second vehicle was in serious condition with numerous broken bones, Johnson said.
By early afternoon, UHP troopers had responded to about 20 crashes and 70 slideoffs in Salt Lake and Utah counties combined; Davis County dispatchers reported about 40 combined crashes and slideoffs; and Salt Lake Valley dispatchers reported more than 30 accidents.
Salt Lake City International Airport, closed down for a time during last week's freezing rain storm, was operating normally Tuesday.
The storm activity had a notable effect on air quality, though, as the Utah Division of Air Quality predicted it would remain "green" or good for Wednesday.
The Utah Avalanche Center forecast for Wednesday called for "high" risk ratings statewide.
Tribune reporter Mike Gorrell contributed to this story.
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