Winter storm slams Utah

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 27 2007 12:30 p.m. MST

Heavy snow across the Wasatch Front prompted the University of Utah campus and its Salt Lake County satellite campuses to close at noon. The university's hospitals and health clinics will remain open.

This morning's snow storm snarled traffic and is dumping several inches of snow on the valley floors, causing the closure of several canyons.

Interstate 80 has been reopened to eastbound and westbound traffic, said Nile Easton, spokesman for the Utah Department of Transportation.

The roads leading into Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons remain closed. Big Cottonwood Canyon is expected to reopen by 1 p.m. However, avalanche work in Little Cottonwood Canyon could keep the roadway closed until 2 p.m., Easton said.

Easton described current driving conditions as slushy, and said as the storm moves south, UDOT will keep an eye on Provo Canyon. Easton said UDOT is now working to keep roadways from freezing overnight.

"We will work all day to clear even the shoulders so the snow doesn't melt, (refreeze) and form black ice," he said.

Several jackknifed semis were reported in Parley's Canyon, the Utah Highway Patrol said. Other areas are requiring chains, snow tires or four-wheel drive including I-80 westbound toward Lakepoint and Tooele, the Utah Department of Transportation's CommuterLink Web site said.

Avalanche danger in the canyons is extremely high.

Dozens of accidents are being reported all over, including on I-80, I-15, I-215 and on city streets across the valley.

The Utah Highway Patrol responded to more than 30 accidents and 13 slideoffs on Salt Lake County's freeways by 10:30 a.m. Troopers in Davis County assisted on 18 crashes between 6 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

UHP Sgt. Jeff Nigbur expected those crash totals to rise.

Salt Lake City police were also busy responding to accidents on surface streets during the storm. The city responded to 47 accidents between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m.

One of those accidents included a Coke delivery truck that hit a tree which was knocked over and landed on another vehicle.

The Avenues were hit exceptionally hard. Detective Jeff Bedard said the steep streets between 1st Avenue and South Temple and from A Street east were nearly impossible to drive on during the height of the storm.

The National Weather Service said a heavy snow warning has been issued for northern Utah from Logan to Nephi, with snow advisories issued for much of central and southern Utah. Up to eight inches of snow is expected in the Salt Lake and Tooele valleys.

The storm is expected to move further south throughout the day, hitting southern Utah by this afternoon.


E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com; preavy@desnews.com

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