Meteorologists, troopers urge drivers in northern Utah to watch for snow squall warnings, poor conditions

Jan 9, 2024, 10:51 AM | Updated: Jan 10, 2024, 3:40 pm

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SALT LAKE CITY — With a storm system that could bring 1 to 2 feet of new snow to valleys over the next six days including locally intense bands of snow or “squalls,” meteorologists and troopers alike were urging people to be prepared and avoid travel when possible.

As the KSL Weather team forecast 1 to 3 inches in valley locations for Tuesday, the National Weather Service said it was possible that “squall” warnings could be issued in the days ahead, if conditions were right.

According to NWS meteorologists, those warnings were first issued in December 2021 using the emergency alert system to send push notifications to phones and caught some people by surprise.

“The first time we issued one, they were like, ‘What’s a snow squall — what are we supposed to do with this information?’” said lead meteorologist Christine Kruse. “It’s a very common term in the East. It’s not a term that we’ve used very much in Utah.”

Kruse said the purpose of the warnings is to alert people about potentially hazardous travel and to hopefully keep them off the roads at the worst times.

“You don’t want to drive into a snow squall,” Kruse said.

Kruse said squalls are essentially intense, locally heavy snowstorms that can produce strong winds, near-zero visibility and flash freezing on roadways.

“It’s a very dangerous situation if you’re out on the roads,” she said. “What we don’t want is people stuck on the roads in the middle of snow squalls and getting into a really dangerous situation if we can avoid it.”

The Utah Highway Patrol was also warning of the potential hazard on Monday and said it planned to have extra troopers working.

“We have extra staff coming on every single day,” said trooper Kate Murri. “For sure it will be a little crazy.”

Murri said if people had the potential to work from home over the next couple of days in particular, they should consider it.

Otherwise, troopers advised people to consult the latest road condition information from the Utah Department of Transportation make sure treads on tires are good and always slow down during storms and give extra following distance to other cars.

“I’d be very prepared,” Murri said.

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Meteorologists, troopers urge drivers in northern Utah to watch for snow squall warnings, poor conditions