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Snow likely to let up for commuters

Published: Friday, Jan. 12 2007 12:04 a.m. MST

Marmae Hoxer walks through the snow on her way to the Davis Applied Technology Center in Kaysville on Thursday.

Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News

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Today's commute will likely be much different from Thursday's, with less time spent avoiding cars that slid of roads due to a storm that dropped snow in northern Utah through much of the day.

National Weather Service meteorologist Linda Cheng said today's conditions will bring less precipitation and cooler temperatures.

"We won't get up to freezing and it will stay in the teens and in the 20s into next week," she said.

Spotty snow showers throughout today may leave up to an inch in some places and in the mountains possibly more, Cheng said.

Snowbasin and Alta reported the highest snow accumulations, stacking more than 7 inches to their snow bases. Smithfield in Cache County reported a 5-inch total for the storm, while Bountiful received the same across its benches.

Utah County reported smaller amounts as the storm pushed into southeastern Utah Thursday night. Cheng said scattered snow storms will continue in the south until Saturday.

"In the Salt Lake Valley, there's a chance of snow but the accumulations won't be as high," she said.

Snow plows could barely keep up with the elements Thursday, leaving a lot of snow to be moved today.

A snow advisory throughout most of the day kept law enforcement officers on their toes, and if they weren't cleaning up accidents, they were directing traffic, said Trooper Preston Raban with the Utah Highway Patrol.

On the freeways alone, not counting side streets within the cities, troopers in Salt Lake County responded to 218 accidents between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Thirty-eight of them resulted in injuries.

"All of them due to slushy snow and inappropriate speeds for the conditions," Raban said.

Davis and Utah counties, he said, witnessed the same trend in slide-offs and fender-benders with 152 incidents in Davis County, six of them injury accidents. In Utah County, 16 accidents were reported, three of them causing injuries to those involved.

"People need to quit hitting the snooze bar in the morning," Raban said. "When it's snowing, people should give themselves plenty of time to get where they're going and leave plenty of space between them and the cars around them."

Much of the problem came from drivers sneaking around snow removal vehicles, said Utah Department of Transportation spokesman Nile Easton. He said, "It has been a problem all year round."

Drivers don't anticipate the road conditions in front of the snow scrapers or the debris they're throwing from the road that lands on their windshields and they end up spinning out and causing an accident.

"People are in a hurry and they get impatient and don't want to just sit safely behind the snowplows," he said. "It only takes a fourth an inch of snow to cause you to lose control in those sudden movements."

Snow plows travel at a rate of 40-45 mph on the state highways, Easton said. "During a snow storm, that's fast enough." At most, the trucks make a 15-mile swipe on the roads before they turn around and do it again.

"It's not that inconvenient to just wait."


E-mail: wleonard@desnews.com

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