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Snow expected to continue Saturday after impacting roads, schools Friday

Published: Friday, Jan. 11 2013 9:10 a.m. MST

A car travels on the Old Bingham Highway in West Jordan, Friday, Jan. 11, 2013.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Thirty-six hours before the winter storm warning was to expire, the snow had already done enough in Davis County to prompt a snow day.

"I was just so surprised that school was out," Rachel Anderson, of Bountiful, said. "I couldn't believe it, but I'm very happy. It's going to be fun today."

The National Weather Service's winter storm warning will remain in effect until noon Saturday, but the storm that rolled in Thursday afternoon had already coated a good portion of the state in inches and inches of snow. Davis County was among the hardest hit, with 18 inches of snow measured Friday morning in North Salt Lake, Layton and Centerville.

Around 6 a.m. Friday, parents of students in the Davis School District's 86 schools received phone calls and email messages to alert them that schools had been closed for the day. District spokesman Chris Williams said messages were posted on the district's website, Twitter feed and Facebook page. School employees are also notified via the emergency call system.

"The one thing we don't want to do is not get the word out there so some student goes to school and doesn't know schools are closed," Williams said. "We do know that can happen, so our principals and head custodians are asked to report to their schools in case there is a situation where a student doesn't get the word and comes to school."

Williams said this is only the second snow day in his 13 years with the district and officials cancel school when they feel it's necessary.

"There's no benchmark that says zero degrees outside we shut it down, or 12 inches we shut it down. There's not a standard," Williams said.

He said snowplows were out at 1 a.m. Friday and drivers reported that they had returned to areas they had already plowed only to find more snow.

"The big challenge was accessibility," Williams said. "We have to make sure that our schools are accessible, and if we can't stay ahead of the snow and keep lots plowed so our buses can get in, so our parents can drop off students, so our faculty can get in, then we call it."

City government offices in Davis County were also closed due to the snow.

Williams said the district will need to make up the day at some point, as they are required to hold classes for 180 days each year. The makeup day has not yet been scheduled.

The National Weather Service reported most areas in northern Utah had received an average of 6 to 8 inches of snow, with East Millcreek, Salt Lake City and Cottonwood Heights each receiving a foot or more. Upper Millcreek netted nearly 26 inches of snow by Friday night.

The Utah Highway Patrol reported 404 accidents across the Wasatch Front Friday, including 108 accidents in Salt Lake County and 80 in Davis County from midnight through 9 p.m. Seven of those reported in Salt Lake County involved injuries. The UHP also reported 128 slide-off incidents in Salt Lake County.

In Utah County, the UHP reported 18 accidents during that same time period, six of which led to injuries, as well as 13 incidents involving sliding vehicles. An additional 42 accidents were reported in Weber County.

Troopers encouraged anyone who got into an accident on the freeway to drive to the nearest off-ramp, if possible, and then call police. The Utah Department of Transportation updated its Twitter feed and website with road conditions and closures, including the closure of U.S. 191 near the Utah-Wyoming border due to "severe weather conditions."

The snow Thursday and Friday in Salt Lake County prompted some school closures, including Westminster College, Salt Lake Community College, University of Utah and some charter schools, but none of the school districts in the county took a snow day.

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