Snowfall creates risky commute
January 20, 2016
Slushy, snow-covered roads caused several slide-offs and made for a risky commute Wednesday morning for drivers along the Wasatch Front and Back.
At around 10:15 a.m., seven cars were scattered along the shoulders on either side of the westbound lanes of U.S. 40 slowing traffic to a crawl, less than a mile from the county line. No injuries were reported, according to Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Randall Richey.
A fast moving storm system pushed a cold front through the area Wednesday morning and dropped about 1 to 2 inches of snow an hour, according to Glen Merrill, a forecaster with the National Weather Service office in Salt Lake City. He said the first wave struck Tuesday evening.
"There was a period (Wednesday) of really intense snowfall and gusty winds that created near whiteout conditions," Merrill said. "We haven’t had any observations yet, but accumulation is only a few inches. But it came so fast and hit so hard with limited visibility, there was quite a large impact from it."
Utah Highway Patrol troopers responded to multiple weather-related accidents throughout Summit and Wasatch counties, with no significant injuries being reported.
"There have been slide-offs all over the area," Richey said. "We had them in Provo, all along U.S. 40, over by Quinn’s Junction and we had some along Interstate 80 as well."
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As of 1 p.m., Merrill said the system is "generally moving downstream" and occasional showers may develop during the day between periods of sunshine and blue skies.
"That will continue this afternoon and taper off into the evening," Merrill said.
More than two inches of snow accumulation is expected through Wednesday night, according to the National Weather Service. The forecast says patchy fog should settle into the area before Friday and more snow showers could pop up over the weekend.
"We will have another high-pressure system move into the area and it will start building later tonight and hold into Saturday morning," Merrill said. "But the precipitation is mainly focused on Saturday night and Sunday. It will be another round of quick hitting showers. The storm doesn’t look large, but it will bring more snow and at least another few inches."
Richey cautioned drivers to slow down, maintain a safe following distance and look down the road for hazardous conditions when traveling.
"People tend to look just barely in front of their cars, but if they look ahead they can see those hazards and that gives them time to react," Richey said. "And don’t be fooled when the road looks wet. That wind can get blowing and those roads turn to ice."
To view the weather outlook, go to forecast.weather.gov and enter ‘Park City.’ For updated traffic conditions and to view live traffic cameras, go to http://udottraffic.utah.gov/ or download the UDOT Traffic app on iPhone or Android.
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