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Winter blanket drops on Utah cutting power, causing headaches

Published: Saturday, Nov. 10 2012 10:23 p.m. MST

Historic Buttars Farm is covered with fresh snow along State Route 32 in the Kamas Valley on Saturday.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The winter's first major storm pushed through the Wasatch Front Friday and Saturday dumping more than two feet of snow in some places and causing power outages and car accidents.

But it also brought smiles to the faces of children enjoying the winter wonderland and provided a worthy base for ski resorts preparing for opening day.

Snowbird received the most snow during the snowstorm with more than 25 inches dropping on mountain elevations, according to the National Weather Service. Alta received 19 inches. Park City Mountain Resort reported 17 inches of new snow, part of a storm that brought accumulation to most of the state.

"This one put down snow statewide," said hydrologist Brian McInerney with the National Weather Service. "It's cold enough to hold the snow, now what we need is continuous storm activity." 

McInerney said last winter started off well in October but then the state was dominated by high pressure that kept precipitation away.

"Hopefully this year we can have more storms, intense storms would be great," he said. "If we had a normal year we would be OK, we can fill back the reservoirs."

Last winter Utah accumulated between 50 and 70 percent of its average snowpack, but early spring warming and a dry summer put drought pressure on the state.

Utah Highway Patrol reported a number of storm-related accidents throughout the day. In Salt Lake County there were 44 accidents reported with seven people suffering injuries. Davis County had 14 accidents, Utah County had 16 with one person injured, and Weber County reported two storm-related accidents.

"We obviously expect crashes when there is a storm, so this doesn't come as a surprise to us," Trooper Lawrence Hopper with UHP said. "We are calling out troopers that are not on duty to help out with all the crashes. We are doing this when we see a storm coming so that we'll be prepared to handle all the crashes when they do come."

The snowstorm left more than 10,000 people from Orem to Ogden without power as tree branches broke under the weight of heavy snow, coming down across power lines. 

All but 210 houses in Salt Lake and a few other small spots had power restored as of Saturday evening.

"There are preparations we do months before a storm like this," Rocky Mountain Power spokeswoman Maria O'Mara said. "We have a very vigorous tree pruning program. We're doing a lot of pruning so we don't see a lot of the big branches fall when the snow comes."

Some of the hardest hit areas were Cottonwood Heights, Salt Lake and West Valley City.

McInerney said there is a possibility of two more storms in the next week.

"We have another one expected mid-week of next week that looked weak," he said. "And then possibly, and this is way uncertain because it is beyone our models, there could be another good sized storm coming seven or eight days out."

Contributing: Sandra Yi

Twitter: @FinleyJY

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