Another morning, another snowy commute along the Wasatch Front Friday.
For the third time this week, a winter storm timed out perfectly to coincide with the morning commute, causing for a slick ride in some areas.
From midnight until 10 a.m., there were 67 crashes with damage in Salt Lake County, eight crashes with injuries and 21 slide-offs, said Utah Highway Patrol trooper Cameron Roden. None of the injuries were serious.
In Utah County there were considerably fewer accidents this morning compared to the mess near Payson earlier this week. There were just two crashes with property damage this morning, two with minor injuries and five slide-offs, Roden said.
The snow has also forced some freeway restrictions and closures. On I-80, all semis were banned in Parley's Canyon early this morning. As of 10 a.m. all vehicles with chains or 4-wheel drive were allowed on the road. Other closures still in effect include I-80 near Evanston and I-84 near the Idaho border.
The National Weather Service reported the Cache Valley and Ogden bench areas had picked up 8 inches of snow by this morning.
In the Wasatch Mountains, Brighton Ski Resort reported 17 inches of new snow while Solitude and Snyderville Basin each each had 14 inches. There were 12 inches in Snowbasin and 11 new inches in Emigration Canyon.
School was back in session in Park City after snow forced the cancellation of classes Thursday. But in Weber County, Weber State University cancelled classes today at its main campus as well as its Davis campus.
In Weber County, other school closures included St. Joseph's Elementary and St. Joseph's High schools.
What has all the wet winter weather done for snowpack levels in Utah?
The month of January sent the average statewide snowpack total skyrocketing over what had fallen throughout Utah at this point last winter. The Natural Resources Conservation Service as of Feb. 1 put the latest snowpack total at 18 percent above the average annual statewide percentage and 88 percent above last year at the same date.
NRCS hydrologist Tim Bardsley said there is no talk right now of any extended dry period and that most areas in the state where snowpack is measured are above average. Bardsley singled out Escalante as the only place showing below average snowpack the Virgin River and South Eastern Utah areas have posted the highest snowpack totals.
But Utah will need a lot more snow to beat the 2005 and 2006 snowpack years. When the NRCS converts the snowpack to inches of water, Utah had nearly 25 inches by April, 2005. At the same time last year, however, there was less than 10 inches, well below the statewide annual average of about 16 inches. Bardsley said that even though statewide 2006 looked good, it was "quite variable," with some southern drainages actually doing poorly.
With high snow totals for three out of the last four winters (at least so far this year), some might think that reservoirs are back to normal or that spring runoff will be high. Not necessarily so, Bardsley said, noting that the Bear Lake reservoir needs four or five more wet winters before it gets back to near the "near capacity" level of 2000. Bardsley also pointed out that runoff levels will depend on an area's soil moisture levels, which vary throughout Utah.
Snow may not have been the ultimate culprit, but crews were having to battle it in Weber County today after there was another water main break at the mouth of Ogden Canyon.
It's the second main break in a week that has caused significant disruption to water service.
This break was on a different line than the one that ruptured last week, according to the city. Water went out about 2 p.m. Thursday and was back on before 9 a.m. today. The line was not completely repaired, but water was rerouted from other areas to fix the problem. The water pressure may be a little lower than residents are used to, but everyone should have water now, according to city officials.
About 1,500 homes were affected by the latest break. City water officials were investigating how much weather was to blame for the recent breaks.Eventually, the city will have to turn off the water temporarily to put new parts on the broken line. But the city said it would give residents ample notice before that happened.
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