Storm expected to bring heavy snow to Utah mountains — but SLC will remain rainy

The weather service urges drivers to be careful on mountain routes and on the I-15 corridor between Nephi and Cedar City.

(Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune) A fresh dusting of snow covers the mountain tops in Little Cottonwood Canyon on September 23, 2016. The Cottonwood canyons could receive 5-10 inches of snow in the next couple of days, thanks to an incoming winter storm.

The first day of winter isn’t until Dec. 21, but a winter storm system is bringing cold temperatures, rain and snow to much of Utah, according to the National Weather Service.

The center of the incoming storm will be over southern Utah, which will see the most impact, said a weather service meteorologist during a Facebook Live event on Monday evening. The areas expected to get the largest accumulations of snow are the mountains of central and southern Utah, with totals of 10-20 inches possible. Snow is most likely Monday night and into Tuesday.

Other mountain areas where snow is expected to accumulate are the western Uinta Mountains, the Wasatch Plateau and the Book Cliffs area, where 6-12 inches are possible. The Wasatch Mountains south of Interstate 80 and the upper Cottonwood canyons could receive 5-10 inches. All that snow could create dangerous conditions in the backcountry, the weather service said.

The storm will also bring “wide-ranging” travel impacts, according to meteorologists, especially along the Interstate 15 corridor between Nephi and Cedar City. Drivers can expect heavy, rapidly falling snow at summits, as well as where Interstate 70 meets I-15. But, the weather service warned that all mountain routes could be treacherous in the storm, and urged travelers and hikers to be prepared for bad weather.

Some valleys in the central and southern parts of the state, including Sanpete and Sevier, as well as Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef national parks, could see 2-5 inches of snow.

Freezing temperatures and snow probably won’t come to the valleys of northern Utah, though. The forecast for Salt Lake City is rainy through Tuesday night, with skies clearing on Wednesday. But another storm system will roll in on Thursday, bringing the possibility of snow and frost.

(National Weather Service) A winter-like storm is headed to Utah.

It is about four weeks early for snow — the average date of the first measurable snow in Salt Lake City is Nov. 7. And the average high temperatures for Oct. 11-15 are 66-68 degrees.

In southwest Utah, there is a 90% chance of rain on Monday night and a 60% chance on Tuesday in St. George, when temperatures will reach only the mid-50s. Sunny skies and highs in the low to mid-60s are expected Wednesday through Friday, with overnight lows near 40 through the end of the work week.

On Saturday, 87 ultrarunners fought howling winds, 12-18 inches of snow and “near whiteout conditions” before search and rescue efforts were activated in the Wasatch Mountain range.

— Tribune reporter Kolbie Peterson contributed to this story.