Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
A BYU student walks to classes after a January storm. The moisture is a boon for snowpack levels.

Storm after storm has pummeled the Wasatch Front this winter, and forecasters say another one could hit late tonight.

"This one might pack a little more punch," said Mike Seaman, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City. Six inches or more could land on the valley floors, with the mountain areas receiving a few feet, according to the Weather Service.

While the onslaught of storms has been a nightmare for commuters, the wet weather has been a boon for the state's snowpack levels.

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 southeastern 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 of the past 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 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.

The Weather Service predicts even more snow on the horizon for much of the state. The brunt of the latest storm is expected to hit the Wasatch Front Sunday and could linger into Monday morning — a familiar tune for Utah's motorists.

For the third time this week, a winter storm perfectly coincided with the morning commute Friday, causing 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 a multivehicle 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 also forced some freeway restrictions and closures. On I-80, all semis were banned in Parleys Canyon early Friday morning. I-80 near Evanston and I-84 near the Idaho border were also closed.

The National Weather Service reported the Cache Valley and Ogden bench areas picked up 8 inches of snow Friday 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 canceled classes Friday 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.

Snow may not have been the ultimate culprit, but crews had to battle it in Weber County Friday after another water main break at the mouth of Ogden Canyon.

It was the second main break in a week that caused significant disruption to water service.

The latest 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. Friday.

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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