UDOT snow plows stay ahead of long-lasting storm

Dec 13, 2022, 5:15 PM | Updated: 5:32 pm
UDOT snow plows were ready for this latest storm...
UDOT had the staffing to keep its 565 plows on the roads during this long-lasting storm. (KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — The snowstorm moving through Utah has delivered in waves for nearly two days and it affected another evening commute Tuesday, even if it wasn’t snowing hard.  

State plow crews have been able to keep the main roads clear for several key reasons.

There’s been light to moderate snowfall on the east side of the Salt Lake Valley and at the mouth of Parleys Canyon most of Tuesday. It was just enough to keep the plows at work.  

In most areas, plows did not have trouble keeping up.

John Gleason, director of communications for the Utah Department of Transportation said, “This is a storm that has really hit the entire state of Utah. So, we have had most of our available crews out.” 

The longest lasting statewide snowstorm to deliver in Utah this season, testing UDOT‘s ability to keep the roads clear.  Fortunately, temperatures in the valleys have been warm enough that the salt can keep the roads from getting icy.

“The colder the temperatures for the roads, even if it’s a light amount of snow, it can really create some icy conditions,” Gleason said. 

The National Weather Service said the winter storm warning that was supposed to expire at 5 p.m. Tuesday had been extended to Wednesday at noon.

UDOT also has the staffing to keep its 565 plows on the roads for a statewide storm, although it makes adjustments in the schedule for the best coverage throughout the day.

“When we have a big storm like this we stagger those shifts,” Gleason said. “So, we’ll have instead of everybody coming in at 6 a.m., we’ll have somebody come in at 4 a.m., we’ll have somebody come in at 6 a.m., somebody come in at 8 a.m., so we have that coverage.”

Unlike the storm 10 days ago, this one has not been coming down so fast that the plows cannot keep up.

“We’re managing it really well because it has been fairly spotty snow showers throughout most of the Wasatch Front. So, we’ve been able to get crews rest when the when they need it,” the communications director said.

Typically, a statewide snowstorm costs UDOT about $1 million to clear.  They estimate this one has already cost more.

“Where are you have a longer duration like this we’re probably looking at additional money,” Gleason said. 

The state budgets $24 million for clearing snow each year.  This early in the season, no worries yet about the budget or the supply of salt.

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UDOT snow plows stay ahead of long-lasting storm