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Tim Hussin, Deseret Morning News
Victoria Hampton, 6, catches snowflakes as she waits for the bus after school in Salt Lake Wednesday.

A fast-moving snowstorm blasted northern Utah Wednesday during the evening commute, closing roads and bringing traffic to a standstill in a harsh reminder that winter is not yet finished.

The storm hit hardest in Utah County. "We just have crashes all over," Utah Highway Patrol spokesman Cameron Roden said around 6 p.m.

In Saratoga Springs, where the storm caused some of the most severe problems, the calls started pouring in to dispatch centers around 3:45 p.m.

Slick roads and high winds caused a 12-car pileup at Redwood Road and Lehi Main in Saratoga Springs. Dozens of people, including children, were hurt in accidents that littered the county's roadsides, but no major injuries were reported Wednesday night.

"Things are nasty all over the north end of the county," said Utah County Sheriff's Lt. Wally Perschon. "Saratoga Springs and Lehi are battling to get the roads cleared. We've had a bunch of fender-benders. Several people were hurt, but nothing major."

All of Redwood Road was shut down in Utah County by 6 p.m. Motorists in the area gathered at a nearby grocery store, where a manager relayed messages from police to the hundreds of people roaming the aisles. As the evening progressed, people were seen buying pillows and blankets, preparing to spend the night.

Multiple crashes closed state Route 73 to Eagle Mountain, bringing traffic to a complete stop for several hours. Traffic was starting to move about 10 p.m.

Around 5:30 p.m., two semitrailers jackknifed near the Point of the Mountain, "clogging up traffic big time," Roden said. "They're backed up past American Fork."

Bus loads of students from the Alpine School District were stuck on the impassable roads. Students were returned to their schools until parents could get them.

About 180 students, teachers and parents were still at Ridgeline Elementary School at 10:30 p.m., said Alpine School District spokeswoman Rhonda Bromely.

Parents who came to pick up their children became stuck as roads in the area closed. Neighbors brought food, blankets and pillows to the school, while some planned to spend the night.

Ridgeline, Pony Express and Harvest Hills elementary schools are scheduled to start at 11 a.m. today, with buses starting at 10:30 a.m., Bromely said

After receiving a call from a woman stuck with her children in an SUV that had tipped on its side, Utah County Sheriff's deputies searched roadsides for some time before finding the vehicle in the sideways-blowing snow.

Snowplow drivers tried to clear the roads but couldn't make their way through the snarled traffic.

"The snowplows get stuck in the traffic just like everybody else," said Adan Carrillo, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Transportation. "When the storm hits us during the commute, that's what we're up against."

Interstate 15 was closed for a short time in Box Elder and Weber counties, where Ogden received 3 inches of new snow by 4 p.m. In Logan, Utah State University canceled evening classes because of heavy snow and strong winds.

U.S. 191 in Tooele was also shut down Wednesday night. "They just couldn't keep up with all the snow," Roden said.

Winds nearing 50 mph downed power lines and limited visibility.

Wednesday's storm brought more than 5 inches to Tooele and 4 inches in Sandy and Millcreek, according to the National Weather Service.

"We got a pretty good burst of snow with the commute," said Mike Seaman, a NWS forecaster. By about 7 p.m., most of the front that brought the snow was moving toward Cedar City, he said.

Snow could linger into this morning, Seaman said, especially along I-15 from Fillmore to Cedar City. A high-pressure system is expected to bring back "that early spring-type feel" for much of the state this weekend, the forecaster said.

"It was almost a teaser this week. Fortunately, the snow won't stick around for long."


Contributing: Aaron Falk, Amy Stewart

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