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Utah forecast: Heavy mountain snowfall, lighter precipitation for valleys
Winter's grip on northern Utah tightened Friday, ushering in the first of a series of storms expected to dump several feet of snow on the region's mountains.
While 2-3 feet of fresh snowfall was expected to accumulate through the weekend along the high elevations of the southern Wasatch Front, Wasatch Plateau and Uintas, 1-3 inches were forecast for the valleys. As Friday dawned, snow was already falling heavily in several mountain locations.
The National Weather Service's Winter Storm Warning was in effect through 5 p.m. Monday. There will be breaks of a few hours' duration over the next few days when snowfall abates, but heavy snowfall was expected otherwise Saturday morning through Sunday.
Strong canyon and ridgeline winds will make travel through the mountain passes and canyons a challenge, too. Gusts topping 70 mph were possible.
High temperatures Saturday in the Salt Lake and Tooele valleys were to range into the mid-40s, a few degrees warmer than forecast for Friday. Overnight lows were to be in the low-30s. Snow and rain were on the horizon, respectively depending on ambient temperatures.
A windy southern Utah, with breezes of 10-20 mph expected in the evening hours, looked for highs in the mid-50s under partly cloudy skies and overnight lows in the low-40s.
The Utah Avalanche Center warned that the risk for potentially deadly backcountry snowslides remained elevated, with the mountains above Logan and Moab, as well as the Uintas, rated at "considerable." The Ogden, Salt Lake and Provo districts earned "moderate" risk grades in initial assessments Friday morning.
The Utah Division of Air Quality projected "green," or healthy breathing for all areas of the state on Saturday, an improvement from mostly "yellow," or moderate air quality grades for Friday.