SALT LAKE CITY Get ready for round two.
The weekend storm that downed trees and power lines is expected to be a weaker prelude to the blizzard that is expected to hit Salt Lake City about 5 p.m. Tuesday and continue southeast through central Utah through the evening.
That means Rocky Mountain Power crews trying to get ahead of 600 damage locations that have interrupted power for some 13,000 customers since late Saturday are not likely to catch up before additional storm-related outages cause new problems expected to continue through Thanksgiving.
On the highways, whiteout conditions are expected to be followed by blowing snow that will impact holiday traffic.
"Round two of these storms is definitely coming, and we encourage our customers to get ready," said Rocky Mountain Power spokeswoman Margaret Oler. "We recognize what an inconvenience it is to be without power, but we also realize these things do happen with winter storms."
This past weekend's storm, where the Utah Highway Patrol had more than 150 weather-related calls, may have put drivers on alert, but trooper Todd Johnson said the UHP will be out in force through the holiday. He advises people who have to drive to be ready for an emergency by traveling with a full tank of gas, good tires, blankets and water and food in their car. "Most of all, allow plenty of time to get to their destination," he said. "Be courteous with other drivers and avoid following too close."
"We've had some early storms, so people are becoming accustomed to this (weather) with their driving and paying more attention to weather reports. Hopefully they'll all plan appropriately," Johnson said.
Plows will also be out in force. "It is important people give those trucks enough distance to do their job. Don't try to pass them. Be patient and let them plow the road. They do eventually take an exit and turn around," he said.
The KSL Live-5 Weather Team said the upcoming arctic storm will be a record breaker, with wind gusts to 60 mph, heavy snow and extra cold temperatures.
"The timing is terrible because everybody is getting in their car to go somewhere," said meteorologist Kevin Eubank. High temperatures in the Salt Lake area are only expected to reach 19 on Wednesday with the low hitting 7 degrees by Thanksgiving morning. After the snow stops, "The snow's not going anywhere — it's just going to blow around."
The weather will start to clear out Thursday with another storm expected to drop in Sunday.
"We haven't had one of these for a long, long time," meteorologist Len Randolph said of the first blizzard warning he can recall this early in the season. He expects a whiteout with "horrific conditions" for traffic and dangerous cold for both the homeless — and shoppers waiting in pre-dawn lines on Black Friday.
Questar Gas spokesman Chad Jones said the natural gas infrastructure was not damaged in the weekend storm and that he doesn't expect the next storm will adversely affect gas customers. He did offer a safety alert that customers not let snow pile up and block fresh-air intake vents.