Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley said it was a tough decision to make, but the district opted to keep its schools in-session. He said district officials started looking at snowfall from 11 p.m. Thursday through Friday morning at 4 a.m. The district had principals and custodians report what they were seeing at their schools and worked with law enforcement and local municipalities to make the call.
"Weather is an unpredictable thing, and the situation here is so fluid that it's hard to pin it down and say, 'This will work districtwide,'" Horsley said, noting that the Granite schools on the east bench were hit much harder by the snow than the schools in Magna, which only reported 4 or 5 inches. "We do the best we can and try to err on the side of safety."
Like Davis School District, Granite School District doesn't have a set standard to determine a snow day. Because the district covers such a large area, Horsley said it leaves some discretion to principals, who can utilize a late-start option if needed.
"They get that information to us so we can communicate with parents," Horsley said. "We have phones, email, Facebook and Twitter when there's a late start."
He said there were no real issues or concerns getting students to school Friday, though some schools did start later and principals and staff worked to ensure that students got there safely.
"We just appreciate everyone's patience as we worked to get things going," Horsley said.
The snow impacted not only those on the roads, but also residents who had to dig out from their homes and driveways. Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and the City Department of Public Services issued a statement Friday asking residents to try and keep sidewalks clear and help neighbors who may need help shoveling.
They said snow removal crews had been working "continuously" since 3 p.m. Thursday to plow and salt the city's streets. Those efforts first targeted main roads and high-traffic routes but would continue for 24-hour cycles until all city roads are clear.
All Salt Lake City Library locations closed at 4 p.m. Friday "out of concern for the safety of our staff and our patrons," spokeswoman Julianne Hancock said. "As the snowy conditions persist and temperatures begin to drop, we want to mitigate hazard as much as we can in what will likely be treacherous road conditions during the rush hour."
Travel in Big and Little Cottonwood canyons was limited to vehicles with chains or four-wheel drive capabilities Friday while all semitrailers traveling east through Parleys Canyon were also required to use chains.
In Iron County, state Route 143 was closed above Brian Head to Mammoth Creek "due to hazardous road conditions."
The Utah Transit Authority reported that snow slowed both buses and FrontRunner service in Davis and Weber counties through the early part of the Friday morning's commute, but most buses were quickly back on schedule. They also reported more riders than normal taking advantage of TRAX and FrontRunner Friday.
KSL meteorologist Kevin Eubank said the cold front was over by Friday, but the snow continued due to the "lake effect" and will most likely continue in areas south and east of the Great Salt Lake.
"Not the crazy stuff, nonstop, like we saw before, just light, consistent snow," Eubank said. "And it's going to get cold. We're going to bottom out with single-digit temperatures (Friday) night."
Those cold weekend temperatures are expected throughout the state. Highs of 17 and 20 degrees were forecasted for the Wasatch Front Saturday and Sunday, while St. George should expect highs of 38 and 40 degrees for the same days.
Temperatures of 12 and 13 degrees were predicted in Park City, while the Uinta Basin was facing the coldest weekend with expected highs of just 4 degrees Saturday and 2 degrees on Sunday.
Despite the large amount of snowfall in Salt Lake and Davis counties, the state's ski resorts received from as little as 1 inch of snow at Beaver Mountain in Logan to 13 inches at Eagle Point in Beaver, according to Ski Utah's snow report. Park City, Canyons and Deer Valley all received 9 inches, while Brighton netted 11 inches.
Eubank said the difference in snowfall between Salt Lake and Davis counties and the state's ski resorts can be explained by the mountains and the shallow nature of the lake effect, which kept the bulk of the snow in the valleys.
Contributing: Pat Reavy
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