Major winter storm to bring high winds, rain and snow to Utah this weekend

Some spots could get hit with 75-80 mph winds.

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) A snowplow removes snow during a snowstorm in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024. A major storm is expected to hit Utah this weekend.

March is blowing into Utah with a major winter storm, bringing high winds, rain, snow and colder temperatures this weekend.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch that will be in effect from 11 a.m. Saturday until 5 p.m. Sunday in the Salt Lake and Cache valleys. Valley floors could get 2-5 inches of snow, with 4-8 inches on the benches. Winds of 24-32 mph are expected, and gusts up to 60 mph are possible.

That could make travel “very difficult,” according to the weather service, as patchy blowing snow “could significantly reduce visibility.”

Much more snow is expected at higher elevations — 1-2 feet in the northern, central and southern Utah mountain ranges, with even more possible in the Bear River range and upper Cottonwood Canyons.

High wind warnings have been issued for most of southern and eastern Utah, including lower Washington County, Zion National Park and the western Uinta Basin. In St. George, a wind warning will be in effect from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. on Saturday.

According to the National Weather Service, this will be a “once a season, or even more like a once in 5 years, type wind event” for much of the state — starting overnight Friday for western Utah and stretching into Sunday for southern Utah.

There’s a greater than 80% chance of wind gusts higher than 60 mph, with some areas in west-central and southern Utah likely to see wind gusts of 70-75 mph.

Weather service meteorologists “would not be surprised to see a few locations approach 80 mph winds.” A Category 1 hurricane has winds of 74-95 mph.

The weather service is urging Utahns to move items that could become airborne (outdoor furniture, garbage cans, decorations, and especially trampolines) indoors, or secure them in place.

“This is not an event to skip these preparations. This is a serious, potentially dangerous wind storm,” the weather service advised. Utahns should also prepare for potential power outages.

In Salt Lake City, after peaking at about 50 degrees early Saturday, temperatures are expected to drop to about 30 as the cold front moves in. There’s a 90% chance of precipitation on Saturday, and an 80% chance on Sunday, when a high of 40 is expected.

The storm is expected to move out by Monday, although snow showers could linger in some areas. And even after this major winter storm, there’s at least a slight chance of rain and snow on Wednesday and Thursday.

In St. George, there’s a 50% chance of rain on Saturday; a 60% chance on Saturday night; a 50% chance on Sunday; and a 20% chance on Sunday night. Highs in the mid-50s are expected Sunday through Thursday.