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Snowstorm makes travel tricky along Wasatch Front

Published: Thursday, Dec. 19 2013 5:21 p.m. MST

The downed lines affected traffic in both directions. By Thursday afternoon, the road was clear, and preliminary fixes had been made.

"We're going to have more work for a permanent repair," Eskelsen said, including mending a power pole and making sure that both sets of lines are working.

"It's fair to say that all of this is weather related," Eskelsen said, adding that crews are still unsure what sparked the outage.

The public can check rockymountainpower.net/outage for updated information on power outage areas and on power outage safety, or rockymountainpower.net/mobile on smartphones.

The extreme weather also prompted The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to close down buildings at its headquarters at noon.

"Due to the winter storm, the church has closed its downtown administrative offices," according to a statement from LDS Church officials.

Church officials did not say whether there would be any more closures.

Thursday’s ice storm was “very, very unusual” for Utah, according to KSL meteorologist Grant Weyman.

Other than a similar storm in 2012, Utah has not seen an ice storm for decades.

What makes the storm even more unusual is that it switched from ice to snow. Generally, such storms are seen in the East and Midwest, Weyman said.

The valleys were expected to get 1 inch to 3 inches of snow, he said, with the benches getting between 2 and 8 inches.

Another storm is expected to roll in Saturday, Weyman said.

Although crews did what they could to prepare for the freezing rain and low temperatures, traffic was still impacted during the Thursday morning commute.

A lot of the areas that had storms forecasted did not get brine pretreatment because the rain would have likely washed it away, according to Adan Carillo, Utah Department of Transportation spokesman. Roads were treated with other materials before the storm, he added.

The freezing rain was deceiving with the light snow on top, Carillo said. The pavement that looked dry gave drivers a “false sense of security,” he said.

Freezing temperatures made it difficult to clear the roads of snow and ice that would just not melt, Carillo said.

There were 168 crashes between 9 p.m. and 10:48 a.m. on Utah's highways, according to the Utah Highway Patrol.

“Our snowplows will be working out there 24-7 to make sure that these roads are clear and safe as much as possible,” he said. “We just ask (commuters) to be cautious and give themselves plenty of time to arrive to their destination safely.”

Carillo said drivers should plan on an extended commute and be prepared to drive slowly.

“It’s always those that are in a rush or are getting frustrated because they’ve been behind the wheel about an hour already, and they want to get to work or home already. Those are the ones that end up making … decisions that are not in the best interest of themselves or everybody else,” he said.

Contributing: Shara Park

Email: wevans@deseretnews.com

Twitter: whitevs7

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