Winter renewed its assault on Utah Friday, dumping heavy amounts of snow on nearly every area of the state and creating havoc on many freeways.
The storm, which was accompanied by thunder and lightning shortly after midnight throughout the Salt Lake Valley and north into Davis County, caused myriad problems for morning commuters on both freeways and secondary roads.But law enforcement dispatchers in the Salt Lake area said no major accidents had been reported as of 11:30 a.m. as a result of the storm. However, heavy snowfall and drifting snow were causing dangerous driving conditions in Parleys Canyon.
At Parleys Summit, the Summit County sheriff's office was investigating a semitrailer rollover and a head-on collison of two automobiles just before noon. Earlier Friday morning one auto spun off I-80 near Timpie Point, Tooele County, in lagoons around the Great Salt Lake. Occupants scrambled onto the highway safely.
A leak in the roof of St. Paul's Chapel-Catholic Center, 226 S. Main, caused portions of the ceiling to collapse Friday morning. No injuries were reported in the incident. Salt Lake City Fire Department responded and were cleaning up the mess.
Many cars and other vehicles slid off the freeways and into guardrails. When the freeways became clogged with cars, snowplow crews had a difficult time keeping up with the heavy snowfall.
"Grundles and grundles of snow" resulting in "a multitude of small accidents" was the Utah Highway Patrol's official, if eccentric, assessment of the storm that snarled traffic and sent even snowplows into the ditches.
One Utah Department of Transportation snowplow became stuck while working near the median of I-15 in the northbound lanes near Farmington about 7 a.m. but was pulled out by a second plow and resumed its work.
Police agencies in Davis County reported fenderbenders but no major accidents and no injuries. Drivers apparently could not get up enough speed to have a serious accident, dispatchers said. Vehicles slid off the road into a ditch or snowbank first.
Bountiful reported eight accidents between the midnight arrival of the storm and 9 a.m. Friday, most involving parents trying to get their children to school.
Clearfield reported only one accident but handled 25 requests for tow trucks to get stuck vehicles cleared from city streets, enabling snowplows to go to work.
In Layton, four minor accidents were reported but numerous vehicles, including a few police cars, were reported sliding off the road into snowbanks.
Early Friday morning, Salt Lake Police requested that motorists avoid Foothill Drive between Fifth South and I-215 at least through mid afternoon. With cars all over the road, dispatcher said the highway was virtually impassable.
Surprisingly, there were no reports of power outages as of 7:20 a.m., said Jack Felix, a Utah Power & Light Co. dispatcher in Salt Lake City. The office dispatches for areas stretching from the Point of the Mountain to Farmington and east to the Evanston, Kemmerer, Pinedale and Big Piney areas of Wyoming.
Snowbird Ski Resort took honors with 17 inches of snow from the storm, with Solitude and Brighton each recording 15 inches. The bench areas and Avenues in Salt Lake City had received about 8 inches of new snow by 11:30 a.m. Friday, said William J. Alder, meteorologist in charge of the Salt Lake office of the National Weather Service.
Despite the latest storm, which was expected to taper off Friday afternoon, Alder said the snow is "nothing to brag about in terms of water conditions."
He said, "Each storm will improve water conditions, but we have got to have more. We are fairly optimistic about the water picture, but we have got to keep having storms. We really haven't had a good storm since Christmas, and that was nearly two weeks ago."
Alder said valley areas could have 6 to 12 inches and the mountains 2 to 21/2 feet of new snow by Friday evening. The larger amounts are expected in the Cottonwood canyons.
Scattered snow showers are expected through the weekend, with high temperatures in the mid to upper 20s and lows hovering around 10 degrees along the Wasatch Front, the meteorologist said.
Because of the new snow and strong winds, Brad Meiklejohn of the Utah Avalanche Forecast Center said avalanche hazard is high on all slopes above 7,000 feet and steeper than 30 degrees.