Utahns had to contend with subzero temperatures, howling winds, power outages and slickened highways in the aftermath of the latest storm that dumped substantial amounts of snow Thursday throughout the state.
Temperatures plunged to 39 degrees below zero in Woodruff, Rich County; to minus 35 in Coalville, Summit County; and to 12 and 11 below zero readings, respectively, in Taylorsville and South Jordan, Salt Lake County. The mercury climbed to only 18 degrees early Friday in St. George, said William J. Alder, meteorologist in charge at the Salt Lake office of the National Weather Service.Cold weather caused power outages Thursday night and Friday morning in a number of areas, including Provo, Salt Lake City, Mountain Green, Morgan County, and in the Evanston, Kemmerer and Big Piney areas of Wyoming.
Schools in Rich, Morgan and Daggett counties were closed Friday because of the cold. Daggett Superintendent Vernon Barney said frozen pipes forced the closure of schools there Thursday. He said temperatures were 40 degrees below zero, with the wind chill factor meaning much lower readings.
In Salt Lake City, about 3,000 customers were without power Thursday night and early Friday, and Utah Power & Light Co. crews were still working at 6 a.m. to restore power to customers in an area bounded by 200 South and 1700 South and 1200 West to 1700 West, said Gary Clayton of UP&L's Salt Lake region dispatch center.
The Salt Lake Hilton, Deseret Inn and Quality Inn City Center were among hotels affected. All the hotels had electrical power by early Friday, Clayton said.
A Hilton employee said power was out at that hotel for about eight to 10 hours. He said electricity was restored there at 3:34 a.m. Some of the guests who were relocated to other hotels returned later in the morning, the employee said.
Loss of power for about 30 minutes Thursday night at the Amoco Oil Co. refinery north of Salt Lake City required that fuel be diverted from processing equipment to a tall flare vent, making the flame much larger.
In Provo the power went off about 5 a.m. Friday in the area of University Parkway and 200 West, affecting Brigham Young University and Utah Valley Community College students and other occupants in the Raintree Apartments, 1849 N. 200 West. Also without power was a Denny's restaurant, and a hotel on University Parkway and 200 West.
Power was restored to all areas by about 6:30 a.m., said Dave Barlow, senior power systems dispatcher. It was 3 degrees below zero early Friday in Provo.
The temperature plunge, which was accompanied by high canyon winds along an area stretching from Cache Valley to Utah County, was caused by arctic air pouring into Utah behind the Wednesday night and Thursday snowstorm.
Alder said the highest wind velocity reported was 59 mph at Hill Air Force Base, where blowing snow reduced visibility to a quarter mile at 2:11 a.m. Friday. Other high wind velocities recorded were 42 mph at the mouth of Ogden Canyon; 35 to 40, mouth of Parleys Canyon; and 29 in Holladay.
The high winds and cold temperatures caused a flurry of accidents in and near the Parleys Dip, at the mouth of Parleys Canyon, where sections of I-80 and I-215 were closed at times because of drifting snow and other problems.
Alder said two records were broken Thursday night and early Friday at Salt Lake International Airport. The mercury plunged to a minus 7 degrees just before midnight Thursday. The record for Dec. 20 is 6 below zero in 1930. It was 9 degrees below zero Friday, which broke the previous record of 4 below on Dec. 21, 1930.
"The coldest high temperature we've ever had is 21 degrees in 1968. This will most likely fall today. The temperature will probably only get up in the midteens today - if we're lucky," Alder said.
More snow was forecast for eastern Utah Friday. High winds were expected to die down by early Friday afternoon along the Wasatch Front.
In St. George, temperatures will be in the 25- to 30-degree range during the next two days.