Utah got the storm Tuesday that skiers and water watchers have been waiting for - but not without a multitude of traffic pileups, power outages and other weather-related problems.
The storm front, which was accompanied by abundant tropical moisture from California and freezing temperatures from British Columbia and Alaska, moved across the Salt Lake Valley shortly before noon, causing a flurry of freeway and other accidents in the Utah capital and other cities.With seemingly unending lines on Salt Lake freeways and adjoining highways, some travelers said it took them 2 1/2 or more hours to get home from work Tuesday evening.
But most Utahns were happy, particularly skiers excited to get a jump on the ski season. Ski resort owners and operators are hopeful the pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm will help boost revenues for the season.
Snow and water amounts were impressive in many areas of the state, said William J. Alder, meteorologist in charge of the Salt Lake office of the National Weather Service.
The storm left 32 inches of snow at the Utah Department of Transportation station at Alta; 31 inches at Solitude; 29 inches at Brighton; 26 inches at Snowbird; 21 inches in Park City; 8 inches in South Jordan; and an inch in Springville, Brigham City, Delta and Provo.
Water amounts in the snow ranged from 3.45 inches at the UDOT station at Alta; 2.50 inches at Solitude; 2.30 inches at Brighton; 1.02 inches in Orem; 0.60 of an inch in Tooele; and 0.36 an inch in Salt Lake City.
Utah County got as much water as many areas in the Salt Lake Valley, but the Salt Lake Valley led other areas in the amount of snow. A number of places on the west side of Salt Lake Valley received generous amounts of snow. They included Taylorsville, which had 10 inches; Kearns, 9 inches; and Magna, 8 inches.
Cedar Mountain, near Brian Head in southwestern Utah received 13 inches of snow. Duck Creek, Kane County, reported 13 inches, and Tooele, 3 inches.
There was a 50 percent chance of measurable precipitation in the Salt Lake, Ogden and Provo forecast for Wednesday. That will drop to 20 percent or less Wednesday night and Thanksgiving Day. The remainder of the weekend calls for fair to partly cloudy skies with increasing haze. Highs will be 45 to 50 degrees and will be between 25 and 30.
Hundreds of accidents occurred during and after the front moved across the state Tuesday. At one point Tuesday evening, Utah Highway Patrol and other dispatchers estimated that there were more than 200 traffic accidents. According to reports reaching highway dispatchers, none of the accidents resulted in serious injuries to drivers or passengers.
Black ice and other slippery road conditions caused vehicle pileups Tuesday in the Provo-Orem area.
Salt Lake police responded to about 40 accidents by midnight, officials said. In Salt Lake County, so many incidents were reported that dispatchers had a tough time keeping track of them. Utah Highway Patrol officials said more than 129 accidents had also been reported from midnight Monday to midnight Tuesday.
Most accidents were reported between noon and 8 p.m., with the majority occurring when roads became slippery because of freezing temperatures, which dropped 10 degrees when the front passed the Salt Lake International Airport. Rain changed to snow almost immediately, Alder said.
And driving conditions were hazardous in many areas early Wednesday. The mercury dropped to 5 below at Duck Creek; 7 degrees at Alta; 11 at Delta; and 16 at Price and Richfield.
One accident, which occurred about 3 p.m. Tuesday at the I-215 and I-15 interchange, sent several vehicles down an embankment, trapping one woman in her car for approximately half an hour, officials said.
Salt Lake Police Lt. Mark Zelig said officers were busy with minor "fender benders."
A Highway Patrol trooper, who didn't want to be identified, said, "There's been lots of fender-benders and lots of cars off the road. It's been really busy because of the slick road conditions. I guess motorists are not used to the weather."
Most roads remained wet and slick throughout Tuesday night, despite efforts to clean up major thoroughfares. Cars were required to have chains on their tires to enter Big and Little Cottonwood canyons.
Salt Lake County had 10 snowplows cleaning roads Tuesday night, said Salt Lake County sheriff's Lt. Bernard Hahn. "It's been extremely busy because of dangerous icy roads," Hahn said.
One of the most dramatic accident as a result of the storm occurred on 1500 W. Riverdale Road in Riverdale, Weber County. It involved five cars and two pickup trucks, said Riverdale Police Sgt. Mike Daily.
The accident occurred when one vehicle stopped for a red light at 1500 W. on Riverdale Road and was hit by six other vehicles unable to stop because of poor visibility and slippery conditions.
"With the extreme slick road conditions the cars behind him (the driver) couldn't stop. Everybody got rear-ended. It was a chain reaction," Daily said.
Another accident involved an eight-vehicle pileup on U.S. 89 and occurred at the overpass merging onto I-15 in front of Lagoon Resort. Ice on the overpass caused seven vehicles and one semitrailer truck to smash into each other after one of the vehicles spun out of control, said UHP Trooper Kelly Zaugg.
David Mead, Utah Power & Light spokesman, said the storm also caused several power outages Tuesday in the southern and eastern parts of the Salt Lake Valley. The outages were caused by snow-packed tree limbs that snapped and broke power lines, Mead said.
"We had about 75 trouble calls reported," Mead said. "Those with electric motors on furnaces were a little cold Tuesday." Power was shortly restored, he said.
Alta 32 inches
Solitude 31 inches
Snowbird 26 inches
Cedar Mountain 13 inches
Elk Meadows 12 inches
Taylorsville 10 inches
Kearns 9 inches
South Jordan 8 inches
West Valley City 7 inches
Centerville 5 inches
Hill Air Force Base 4 inches
Logan 4 inches
Provo-BYU 1 inch