WEATHER

UDOT Cautions About Canyon Driving Ahead Of Major Mountain Snow Event

Jan 16, 2019, 10:39 PM | Updated: 10:41 pm

LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah — Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) workers and the ski resorts were cautioning would-be skiers and snowboarders to be prepared ahead of a major snow event for the mountains expected Thursday into Friday.

“Be prepared!” said roadway operations manager Jake Brown. “Have your vehicle in tip-top shape.”

UDOT officials said their forecasters have projected as much as two feet of new snow for the Big and Little Cottonwood canyons, with snow rates as high as 2 to 3 inches per hour, potentially meaning hazardous driving conditions — even with plows on the road.

“If there’s near-whiteout conditions, it gets pretty scary,” Brown said. “It can snow so hard that a plow could be 200 yards in front of you and it doesn’t even look like the road’s been plowed.”

Brown urged drivers not to ride on bald tires and to obey Utah chain laws.

Already, he said major backups have resulted in the canyon areas due to those kinds of avoidable problems.

“We believe that people aren’t chaining up when they need to,” Brown said. “People aren’t checking their tires.”

Police were expected to enforce chain laws strictly.

“We still want you to come skiing,” Brown said. “Take the bus.”

Solitude Mountain Resort spokesperson Sara Huey also encouraged skiers and snowboarders to consider alternate forms of transportation, including carpooling and UTA’s ski bus in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

“People get excited and rightfully so,” Huey said. “Be patient, don’t worry about trying to pass someone because you’re just going to end up in the same line, and just kind of take it easy. We’re all heading to the same place and we’re all going to have a great weekend.”

Preparations were already underway Wednesday evening at a UDOT shed in Cottonwood Heights as workers filled plow trucks with salt.

Those workers said they were looking forward to the winter storm.

“We all get really excited and we’re all on edge, going, ‘is it ready, is it time to go,’ you know,” transportation technician Julie Allen said. “It’s exciting! It’s a lot of fun!”

MORE: Approaching Storms Raise Concerns For Flooding Below Burn Scars

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UDOT Cautions About Canyon Driving Ahead Of Major Mountain Snow Event