UHP concerned about storm, holiday travel

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The first leg of a snowstorm expected to last through Tuesday has led to road closures throughout the state, power outages in Salt Lake County and major problems on the roads.

As more snow moves in, troopers are preparing for a busy holiday traveling week.

According to the Utah Highway Patrol, Sunday was just the start of what is sure to be a crazy week. Over the next two days, troopers expect to be flooded with calls.

Move over for the emergency vehicles. If they see lights up ahead they need to be thinking ahead, slowing down and providing a safe work zone for the emergency crews.

–Sgt. Kellie Oaks

In Holladay, the snow came down so heavily it caused a branch to fall 60 feet. On Wasatch Boulevard, the snow contributed to a two-car crash.

"The airbags got me. I was the one driving," said David Brewer. "I was just glad it didn't hit the side my wife and daughter were on, so they're safe."

Brewer was a little banged up, but no one was seriously injured. The T-bone accident was caused by a number of things, including a failure to yield and speeds too fast for the conditions.

"Just a little bit of flurry, but the ground is still wet and sticky from the snow before so it's just not a good combination," Brewer said. "You have to really be paying attention when you're out on these roads."


According to the Utah Highway Patrol, there were 50 weather-related crashes reported Sunday in Salt Lake County -- 40 of which damaged only the vehicles. The rest were injury collisions.

In Utah County, there were 28 weather-related calls, while Davis County to the north experienced only 19 calls blamed on weather.

"It was snowing this morning and it's just crazy," said UHP Sgt. Kellie Oaks. "Motorists continue to speed and follow too close."

Troopers are especially concerned with drivers who don't move over for emergency vehicles. Sunday morning, an SUV hit an ambulance that was helping at another crash.

"Move over for the emergency vehicles," said Oaks. "If they see lights up ahead they need to be thinking ahead, slowing down and providing a safe work zone for the emergency crews."

It's an important reminder for this holiday week. UDOT says active construction will stop for Thanksgiving, but there will still be restrictions for the I-15 CORE Project.

"There will still be narrow lanes. There are little or no shoulders in some areas and of course there are reduced speed limits," said UDOT spokeswoman Tania Mashburn.

The storm caused a lot of power outages as well. As of Sunday at 4 p.m., 7,000 customers in the Salt Lake area were still without power. It could be another 10 hours before it's restored.

"This seems to be the area that bore the brunt of the storm," said Margaret Oler, spokeswoman for Rocky Mountain Power. "We have all available crews working to restore the power as quickly as possible."

Oler said the outages were not caused by a single event, but rather the damage is spread throughout 600 locations in the county, with crews moving from one site to the next.

Road closures prompted by the storm include state Road 39 over the Monte Cristo Summit in Weber and Rich counties, a road that typically closes Nov. 30 because of the winter season. The weekend storm led to the early closure and also had state Road 143 shut down between Brian Head and Mammoth Creek.


Story compiled with contributions from Nicole Gonzales and Amy Joi O'Donoghue.


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