The snow that pummeled northern Utah for four days moved south this weekend as high winds took over in the canyons of northern Utah.
But the National Weather Service said better weather is on the way. "If we can survive Monday, by the middle of the week things ought to start improving," said Bill Alder, meteorologist in charge of the agency's Salt Lake office.The National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings for winds over 70 mph for canyons from Provo Canyon north through noon Sunday and possibly again Sunday night and Monday morning.
Interstate 15 was closed for about 7 hours between St. George and Cedar City because of "terrible, hellish blowing and drifting," said a Utah Highway Patrol dispatcher. Interstate 70 was closed from Salina to the Colorado line for the same reason. Patrol personnel estimated winds in St. George at 70 mph about 2:10 p.m.
U.S. 191 between Duchesne and Price through Indian Canyon also was closed Saturday afternoon, as was U-92 at Sundance. Chains were required for all vehicles in Big and Little Cottonwood canyons and for vehicles over 20,000 pounds in Parleys Canyon. In Salt Lake City, Wasatch Boulevard from 13th South to Michigan Avenue was closed for some time.
Interstate 84 through Weber Canyon was closed to high-profile vehicles. The Weather Service and Highway Patrol asked drivers to curtail all non-emergency travel Saturday night. Winds were clocked at 50 or more miles per hour most of Saturday evening at Hill Air Force Base.
A UHP dispatcher said all roads were snowpacked, and many had blowing and drifting snow. "It's really ugly out here. . . . I don't know if the snowplow drivers can take much more of this."
On Wasatch Drive in southeast Ogden, 4-to-5-foot drifts blocked even snowplows from getting through, a public safety dispatcher said.
The Utah Highway Patrol, citing treacherous conditions, again urged motorists to stay home. Police agencies throughout Utah reported hundreds of accidents, fender-benders and stranded motorists.
The UHP's Salt Lake headquarters has handled nearly 300 weather-related incidents since the front hit Wednesday night.
"We're getting hammered," said UHP Sgt. Brent Munson. "After a while you tend to lose any sense of humor. I think I've lost five patrol cars in two days. People keep running into them."
A Colorado man was killed Saturday morning when the vehicle in which he was riding crossed the southbound lanes of I-15, the median, the northbound lanes and flipped. Scott Jansen, 32, Englewood, died from injuries suffered in the 8:46 a.m. accident south of St. George, the UHP said.
A Salt Lake man whose vehicle slid off an icy road and down a mountain cliff was in serious condition Saturday at LDS Hospital.
Jared Dimick, 20, was driving a pickup truck down Farmington Canyon about 8:15 a.m. Saturday when his vehicle went off the road and landed about 50 feet down a mountainside, said Davis County deputy sheriff Paul Rogers.
"It was severely icy," Rogers said. "He just rolled down the mountain."
Dimick was flown to LDS Hospital by helicopter. A nursing supervisor said he suffered severe head injuries.
In Colorado, four Utahns remained hospitalized Saturday with injuries suffered in a bus accident on I-70 west of Grand Junction. The Greyhound bus was en route from Grand Junction to Green River, Utah, when it overturned in the median on the icy highway.
A Friday accident on I-215 in which a West Jordan woman and her unborn child were killed was caused by excessive speed, the Utah Highway Patrol said.
"Ninety percent of the accidents we handle on a snowy day are speed-related," said trooper Jim Dudzinski, who urged motorists to slow down and anticipate the need to brake for slow-moving cars, slick spots or other obstacles.
Snowfall from Friday afternoon to noon Saturday was heavy everywhere except the north and southwest portions of the state. One to two feet fell in the Uinta Mountains, Flaming Gorge and the Currant Creek area east of Strawberry Reservoir
The Uintah Basin received up to 10 inches, while the northern Wasatch Mountains received about a foot of snow. Utah and Salt Lake counties had up to 8 inches, Alder said, and Delta and Richfield had up to 9 inches.
Davis, Weber and Cache counties, however, received only about 2 inches, and the southwest valleys had only 1 to 3 inches until Saturday afternoon when the cold front pushed south.
As of 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Fillmore had 7 inches, Capitol Reef 4, Hanksville 6, Milford 11 inches with 4-foot drifts, Cedar City 12 to 14 inches, Bryce Canyon 12, Green River 5, Richfield 9 and St. George 3. By 8 p.m., Bullfrog Marina, Kane County, had 4 inches.
A heavy band of snow was centered along Utah's southern border late Saturday, Alder said.
The BYU weather station measured a record snow depth of 26 inches Saturday morning. The previous record was 25 inches on Jan. 23, 1949.
Alder said the snow should taper off in the north Sunday but continue in the south into Monday.
High temperatures Sunday and Monday should be 15 to 25 in most areas, with lows from 9 below to 9 above. Cold spots like Randolph and Woodruff may get down to 30 below zero. It was 3 below zero at 10:15 p.m. Saturday in Holladay, Salt Lake County.
The combination of low temperatures and canyon winds will produce a wind chill factor of 40 to 60 below zero in some places, Alder said.
"The current storm is probably the worst it can get in terms of severe conditions across the state."
He recommended bringing pets in at night, keeping cars in garages where possible, leaving a trickle of water running from the tap if freezing pipes are a problem, and avoiding turning the heat down too far at night.
Alder said the disappointing thing about all this snow is that it's not producing as much water as people might think. February snow normally is not as dense as the stuff that falls earlier or later. "It may seem like a lot of snow, but the bottom line is . . . it's been dry snow."