Snow, snow, snow!
And winter doesn't even officially begin until 8:07 Friday night.But it definitely looks like winter. There was about a foot of new snow since Wednesday morning in some portions of Utah County, 4 to 5 inches of snow and high winds in the Uintah Basin and in southern Utah and drifting snow and icy road conditions in many other areas.
Even normally mild St. George, which had 58 mph wind gusts overnight, received a half inch of snow.
"There's not an area of the state that has been spared from the latest major winter storm," William J. Alder, meteorologist in charge of the Salt Lake office of the National Weather Service, said early Thursday.
The Wednesday night-Thursday morning storm also created extremely hazardous road conditions that prompted Greyhound to park almost a dozen buses at the Salt Lake terminal, stranding close to 400 bus passengers.
"We had to sleep on the dirty, rotten, stinking floor," said Bruce Huffman, Klamath Falls, Ore. "I know Greyhound will never, ever get my business again."
Passengers, many of them boisterous, criticized the company not for the weather, but for making them sleep on the crowded terminal floor.
"The buses are warmer, but they wouldn't let us sleep on the buses," said an angry Melissa Wattigney, Denver, Colo. "Said it was for safety reasons. But they can't tell me sleeping on this floor is safer than sleeping on a bus."
The American Red Cross and Salt Lake County Fire Department helped out with blankets, hot coffee and a Thursday morning breakfast for the stranded passengers.
But it was little consolation for Ronnie Williams of San Jose, Calif. He was on his way to Chicago for his wife's funeral Friday. "What hurts the most is I'll probably miss it," he said.
Greyhound promised that all buses will be dispatched as soon as highways are cleared later Thursday.
With a winter storm warning out for much of the state Thursday and a snow advisory issued for the Wasatch Front and Great Salt Lake Desert, Utahns would do well to prepare for more poor driving conditions and other weather-related problems.
An avalanche warning was issued for the Wasatch Mountains from Spanish Fork Canyon north to the Idaho border.
Alder said Utah County got clobbered with 4 inches of snow Wednesday afternoon and 8 inches of new snow during the night. But the storm didn't seem to cause the usual rash of snow-related highway accidents in that area. An Orem City Police dispatcher said officers only handled about eight or nine accidents from about 4 p.m. Wednesday until midnight.
"The snow made everyone else stay home. The night was quiet. There were no accidents overnight," a Provo police dispatcher said.
Some areas of the Uintah Basin were digging out after the storm in that area Wednesday night and early Thursday. Vernal received about 4 to 5 inches of snow overnight, and it was still snowing at 5:45 a.m. Thursday. Road crews plowed all night to keep roads open, said Marty Reese, a law enforcement dispatcher in Vernal for Uintah, Duchesne and Daggett counties.
Reese said roads in the three counties were open at 5:45 a.m. but roads were not in good condition, she said. Strong winds were a problem in the Uintah Basin, St. George and Cedar City.
Alder's office issued a winter storm warning with blizzard conditions Thursday for the Uintah Basin and southeastern Utah. A snow advisory was in effect for the Wasatch Front and the Great Salt Lake Desert.
Visibility was reduced to less than 50 yards in many areas of the basin because of blowing snow. An additional 4 to 8 inches of snow may fall in the Uintah Basin Thursday, the Weather Service said.
Al Soucie, a forecaster at the Utah Avalanche Forecast Center, said about 2 feet of new snow has fallen since Wednesday afternoon in the mountains. There are areas of unstable snow on slopes above 8,000 feet. Human triggered avalanches are likely and large spontaneous avalanches are possible, he said.
"People without good route finding and snow stability skills should avoid traveling in avalanche terrain. This advisory does not apply to developed ski areas or highways where avalanche control work is normally done."
Winter solstice, the time when the sun reaches that point furthest south of the equator, doesn't arrive until 8:07 p.m. MST Friday.
Brr, it's cold!
Vernal 0 -52
Wendover 5 -10
Lakeside 6 -13
Ogden 11 -12
Hill AFB 10 -15
Salt Lake City 16 -1
Alta -8 -42
Bryce Canyon 11 -18
Monticello 10 inches
Duck Creek 32
Ceder City 8
Salt Lake City .50