Nearly record-breaking cold covers most of Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY — It's not just extremely cold out there, it's bordering on historic. It's been years since Utah has seen some of these temperatures.

Some of the temperatures seen in the state seem more appropriate for Minnesota: -25 degrees Fahrenheit in Bryce Canyon; -21 F at Kimball Junction; and -29 F in Wellington, the lowest temperature in the state.

In the early morning hours in Salt Lake City Monday, water poured on the ground froze in about 20 seconds.

The temperature dropped below 0 F at the Salt Lake International Airport overnight. The last time that happened was on Jan. 22, 2008, when it was -2 F.

Former engineer spends cold days helping neighbors
by Devon Dolan

SALT LAKE CITY — The freezing temperatures are making snow removal tough for Salt Lake City administrators and homeowners. But residents of one neighborhood have an easier time clearing their walks thanks to a man named Scott Smith.

When we met Smith Monday afternoon, he'd already removed and piled the snow high at his own home and had moved on down the street to help his neighbors clear their walkways.

"This is something that I can do," he said.

Smith once worked as a software engineer, and then he had a stroke that almost killed him. He survived but isn't able to hold a job. Now he's found a new line of work.

"It's on any common day that we'll look out and see that he's out here helping in the yard," said neighbor David Smurthwaite.

Smith has helped out Smurthwaite and his family for the last five years.

"We have Scott who pulls dandelions in the summer, and we have him scraping our sidewalk today," Smurthwaite said.

In all, Smith cleared the way for more than 20 homes Monday.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm sure glad to help someone," Smith said. "I might not like somebody until I do this for them."


Monday's weather was chilly and icy as well, with a high of 13 F. That's the coldest high temperature since Dec. 1990.

KSL meteorologists say the cold should keep the inversion around and at a maximum during the middle of the week.

The extreme cold is presenting problems in a number of ways, including slowing down students and workers as well as bursting pipes all around the state.

"It's not exactly motivating to go to school," said USU Student Tyson McBride. "So yeah, it's pretty cold."

Not far from USU, Eddie Murillo and his co-workers were out fusing a pipeline Monday. "We've had it worse," Murillo said. "Working at 10 below (0 F), 6 below, 5 below for weeks at a time."

Murillo said there's no magic trick to staying warm. "Just gotta keep moving," he said. "Wear as many sweaters as you can, just keep moving."

People working outdoors need to be very careful as frostbite can set in relatively quickly.

Those skiing already expect to be cold, but even they are going to have to take extra precautions with these sub-zero temperatures.

Utah isn't the only state experiencing extreme cold. Cold temperatures are affecting the agriculture industry in California, and consequently driving up food prices. Click here for more information.


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Andrew Adams and Mike Anderson


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