Storms across Utah make for cooler temperatures, slippery roads and avalanche danger

Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune An AirMed helicopter stirs up the snow as it searches for a signal from a beacon, in Mineral Basin at Snowbird Ski Resort. Wasatch Backcountry Rescue (WBR), University of Utah Health Care's AirMed and the Salt Lake County Sheriff's conducted a backcountry rescue training at Snowbird,Friday, January 8, 2010 Members of the Snowbird Ski Patrol, WBR and AirMed used long-range receivers (beacon locator equipment) in a simulated avalanche rescue, with the assistance of Snowbird avalanche rescue dogs.

Wet, stormy weather will move across most of Utah on Tuesday and Wednesday, cooling temperatures and increasing avalanche danger.

On Tuesday, mountain snow will accumulate in areas of about 8,000 feet and higher, and valleys will see rain, according to the National Weather Service. Roads may become slippery as temperatures cool.

On Wednesday, snow levels will drop to valley floors in northern Utah, the NWS says, and showers will taper off by the evening hours. Travel impacts will likely be limited to mountain routes.

The NWS issued a backcountry avalanche watch across the Wasatch Front through Wednesday morning, warning that additional snow and wind will increase danger of avalanches significantly. As of Tuesday morning the Utah Avalanche Center rated avalanche danger “moderate” for Logan, Ogden, Provo and Skyline areas, while it was “considerable” for Salt Lake and the Uintas. However, the danger may rise to “high” as the wind, snow and rain roll in.

The western two-thirds of Utah has been issued a hazardous weather outlook as a low-pressure system approaching southwest Utah brings rain to southern Utah and snow in areas with high elevation. High pressure will return later in the week, the NWS said. Eastern Utah was also issued a hazardous weather outlook, warning of significant snowfall developing in the mountains.

A winter storm warning has been issued for Tuesday night through Wednesday night for the northeast part of San Juan County, where heavy and blowing snow is expected. Residents near the eastern Uinta Mountains should beware of a winter weather advisory, also from Tuesday night to Wednesday night. Snow is expected, the NWS said, bringing slippery road conditions during morning and evening commutes Wednesday. The snow will also reduce visibility and is expected to accumulate between 4 to 8 inches.

The precipitation is expected to clear pollution across the state. While air quality is considered moderate Tuesday in Salt Lake, Davis, Utah, Weber, Box Elder, Cache, Tooele and Duchesne counties, the the state Division of Air Quality anticipates that the entire state will have good air Wednesday.

Highs Tuesday in the Salt Lake and Tooele valleys will reach somewhere in the mid-40s to the lower 50s with a 70 percent chance of rain. Overnight, the chance of rain will be 80 percent and lows will drop into the upper 30s. On Wednesday, the area will see rain and snow in the morning with an increased likelihood for snow in the afternoon. Experts expect to see about 1 inch of accumulations on the valley floor with 1 to 3 inches on mountain benches. Highs will be in the lower to mid-40s with a 100 percent chance of precipitation.

In areas near St. George, rain is likely Tuesday morning with an 80 percent chance in the afternoon. Highs will be in the upper 50s. Rain will continue overnight — with nearly a 100 percent chance of precipitation — as temperatures drop into the upper 30s. On Wednesday, there will be a 20 percent chance of rain with highs in the mid-50s.

For more detailed weather information, visit The Salt Lake Tribune’s weather page at www.sltrib.com/weather.