Record-breaking cold and snow are in Utah’s forecast — but not everyone is ready for it

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Charlotte Richins, 3, bundled up for a cold night at Pumpkin Nights at the Utah State Fairpark in Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019.

Even though Krystina Richins’ three youngest daughters were completely bundled up Monday night — wearing earmuffs with unicorns and pretty plaid coats and a fuzzy monster hat that had pink eyelashes — not all of them were ready for the cold.

“Oh no,” said Emily, 8, tugging her mittens on tighter as the family started walking through a display of jack-o'-lanterns lined up in downtown Salt Lake City. “I don’t know how this could get any worse.”

“It’s freezing,” added her sister Madeline, 6, matter-of-factly. “And I don’t like the freezing-ness.”

Their worries about the weather turned into breathy white swirls in the chilly evening air. And then Charlotte, 3, who sat cuddled up in her stroller with a blanket, stuck her head out and disagreed with them. Her mom had told her that it might snow on Tuesday. “Oh yes,” the toddler said, shaking the pompoms on her head. “I am so excited.”

The Richins went to Pumpkin Nights at the Utah State Fairpark on Monday to try to squeeze in a little Halloween fun — and they got it in just under the wire. If it seems especially cold for October in Utah, it is. It’s going to get even colder, too. And on Tuesday, it’s supposed to storm.

In fact, the National Weather Service predicts it’s about to be chillier than any temperature ever recorded in Salt Lake City during the month.

Temperatures are running about 20 degrees below normal, with a forecast high of 39 on Monday, dropping to 25 overnight and reaching just 31 on Tuesday — when there will be a 90% chance of snow.

The people milling around at Pumpkin Nights could definitely sense the change. One woman shouted, “I’m wearing three layers, and I already can’t feel my toes.” Another declared: “These are my thermal socks.”

Charlee Daley, 9, wrapped a princess blanket around her legs — even though she wanted people to see her orange and black striped tights.

The problem is, though, that it’s going to get even more frigid. The overnight low on Tuesday night is forecast to be 11 degrees. And after a high of 30 on Wednesday, temperatures are expected to dip to 14 on Wednesday night into Thursday.

The previous low temperature for the month of October was 18 degrees — recorded on Oct. 30, 1971.

According to the weather service, a half-dozen sites in Utah matched or exceeded historical lows for Oct. 28 on Monday morning:

Salt Lake City • Low of 22. (Old record — 23 in 1970).

Hans Flat Ranger Station in Canyonlands National Park • Low of 16 (Old record — 21 in 2009).

Randolph • Low of minus 1 (Old record — 5 in 1984).

Capitol Reef National Park • Low of 25 (Tied old record, set in 2012).

Cedar City • Low of 12 (Tied old record, set in 1970).

Deer Creek Dam • 13 (Tied old record, set in 1970).

Adam Smith, 33, entered the pumpkin carving contest at Pumpkin Nights, and after looking at the forecast, he decided he should finish up on Monday before the snow falls. Even still, his pumpkin was frozen solid.

“It’s so cold, I’m dying,” he said with a laugh as he tried to thaw his hands. His orange gourd was starting to look like the design he had in mind: “This giant monster is going to be attacking a city.” But each slice was hard work.

Madeline Richins danced around, watching as he carved and hoping to stay warm as yellow leaves blew down from the trees overhead. “I wish I was wearing pants. But I’m in a dress,” she said with a twirl.

“Once the snow is here, though, she’ll love it,” said Krystina, her mom. “She swims in the snow.”

Berklee Daley, Charlee’s mom, said her daughter also loves the cold. “She builds snowmen and likes to snowboard.”

According to Logan meteorologist Timothy E. Wright, the recording station at Peter Sinks — in the mountains 20 miles northeast of Logan — “likely” broke the national cold record for October. It was minus 34.7 degrees there at 6:15 a.m.

And trick-or-treaters are going to have to bundle up on Halloween. The high on Thursday is expected to be 38, and temperatures will dip into the low 20s overnight.

Several kids wore their costumes in anticipation as they oohed and aahed at the carved pumpkins with the Harry Potter designs seeming like the crowd favorite. One little boy noted, “That’s so cool” — though the sound was slightly muffled behind his ninja mask.

The cold front that’s expected to move into the state Monday night will bring scattered snow showers to northern and central Utah. There’s a 60% chance of snow overnight, with accumulations of less than half an inch expected. The possibility of snow rises on Tuesday morning with possible accumulations of 2 to 4 inches.

A winter weather advisory remains in effect for the Wasatch Mountains through 6 p.m. Tuesday. South of Interstate 80, including the cities of Alta and Brighton and the Mirror Lake Highway, snow totals of 4 to 8 inches are expected — and some parts of Big and Little Cottonwood canyons could see 8 to 12 inches. North of I-80, including the cities of Woodruff and Randolph, snow totals of 3 to 8 inches are expected.

The heaviest snowfall is expected Tuesday morning, with slippery and occasionally snow-packed roads.

There is some good news in the forecast for the weekend. It’s expected to be sunny and clear, with highs near 46 on Friday, 49 on Saturday and 51 on Sunday.

Until then, Salt Lake City Public Utilities recommends homeowners take some steps before freezing weather hits, including:

• Disconnecting hoses from outside faucets and draining them.

• Turning off sprinkler systems and draining them.

• Insulating water pipes in unheated areas (garage, attic, basement, crawl spaces, etc.).

Public Utilities also says homeowners should never try to thaw pipes using an open flame; that’s how many winter house fires begin. Instead, use a hair dryer or the exhaust from a vacuum cleaner. If lines freeze, one should assume they may be broken or split, so put leak repair clamps (available at a plumbing-supply store) in place, and be ready to turn off the water when the pipes thaw.

And, if nothing else, at least it’ll be time to stay inside and finish off whatever Halloween candy is left.