Colder Temps, Ongoing Snow Expected To Cause Challenging AM Commute
Feb 16, 2021, 7:33 PM | Updated: 11:45 pm
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Forecasters expected winter weather to continue blanketing much of Utah through the night and into the morning. With temperatures dropping below freezing, officials said drivers may be in for a rough commute.
Snow fell in waves across the state Tuesday, increasing the risk of avalanches in the high elevations and forcing the closure of Big and Little Cottonwood canyons.
KSL meteorologist Kristin Van Dyke said a strong, colder disturbance was moving in overnight, leading to icy, snow-packed roadways. If drivers need to go out onto the roadways, they have been advised to plan for plenty of extra time.
Utah Department of Transportation spokesperson John Gleason said plows will struggle to keep up with heavy snow during the Wednesday morning commute, and crews are asking the public to avoid northern Utah roads until after 10 a.m. if possible.
Three to five inches of new snow was possible in the Salt Lake and Tooele valleys, with even more expected in the benches. The snow was forecasted to continue through the day.
By Wednesday evening, the mountains will see an additional one to two feet of snow. The area was expected to dry out Thursday, before another storm arrives Friday with rain and snow, and even more possible on Saturday.
Avalanche danger has reached extreme levels in parts of Northern Utah.
The Utah Avalanche Center issuing a warning on Twitter, saying anybody going into or near the mountains should avoid being near or under any steep slopes, including skiers, snowshoers, runners, sledders and dog walkers.
High to Extreme avalanche danger in northern Utah. Avoid all avalanche terrain. pic.twitter.com/SZlkYq7eeY
— UtahAvalancheCenter (@UACwasatch) February 16, 2021
The Utah Department of Transportation shared video of a slide that just missed a truck in Little Cottonwood Canyon Tuesday. In the video, the truck moves out of the way just before the avalanche spilled into the road.
Officials said there were several similar avalanches in the canyon throughout the day as the snow continued to fall.
Both canyons were shut down as crews worked to mitigate possible slides. Skiers and snowboarders stood by, some waiting for hours, hoping for the canyons to reopen. Those waiting at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon were able to continue to the ski resorts when the road opened back up around noon.
Little Cottonwood had several more avalanches and remained closed. UDOT officials said they were not going to risk possible injuries to drivers until they knew it’s safe to drive up.
Watch KSL Today beginning at 4:30 a.m. for the latest information on the morning weather and traffic conditions.