Locked inside Mother Nature’s freezer, Utah shivered through single-digit, and in some places well below zero temperatures early Thursday — and Friday promised to be a frigid encore.
Salt Lake City fell to 9 degrees early Thursday, but even well above the record low for the date of minus 3 set in 1972, that was a Caribbean vacation compared to other spots in the state. Bryce Canyon’s overnight low was minus 25 degrees and Cedar City recorded a teeth-chattering minus 10 before Thursday dawned.
Vernal was minus 10, too, while Provo hit zero and Logan 9 degrees. Even St. George, the heart of Utah’s Dixie, managed just 19 degrees overnight with a high Thursday expected to barely top freezing.
Salt Lake City’s forecast high for Thursday was just 19 degrees.
The extreme cold complicated emergency crews’ work in putting out an early Thursday morning semi-trailer fire on northbound Interstate 15 than closed down the ramp to westbound Interstate 80 for several hours.
Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Todd Royce said both drivers of the truck, which was hauling a trailer load of wooden cabinets out of California, were unhurt. However, the big rig and its load were a total loss.
Troopers believe the fire started in the semi’s braking system about 3 a.m. The blaze was put out, but the water poured on the blaze by firefighters froze on the roadway, making travel even more dangerous through the scene. Utah Department of Transportation crews applied road salt to melt the ice.
Friday’s forecast called for more of the same, cold comfort indeed. Under cloudy skies bringing only a slight chance of new snow, the Wasatch Front generally looked for no better than the low-20s for daytime highs, while the mercury was to dip into the low-teens overnight.
Higher up, in the Wasatch Mountain valleys nestling Park City, Heber and Huntsville, it was even colder. Friday’s forecast called for highs of 10-15 degrees with thermometers retreating to zero overnight. The National Weather Service said there was a 30 percent chance of snow showers for the region.
The Wasatch Range north of I-80, the state’s ice box and home to the towns of Woodruff, Randolph and Bear River, looked for highs Friday of 10-15 degrees with overnight lows of minus 5.
Southwestern Utah’s highs Friday were pegged in the mid-30s with overnight lows of 15-20 degrees.
The Utah Avalanche Center’s initial risk ratings for potentially deadly backcountry snowslides were elevated to "considerable" for the Uintas and "moderate" for the rest of the state’s mountains.
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