Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
SALT LAKE CITY — A major winter storm moved in over Utah early Tuesday, causing problems during the morning commute. By afternoon, the storm was still going strong, making for another slow commute home along the Wasatch Front.
One of the worst spots was near the Point of the Mountain. Drivers on the Timpanogos Highway had to deal with blowing snow, which limited visibility and made driving very slow and scary.
There were also numerous accidents along I-15, in Utah, Salt Lake and Davis counties. In fact, Utah Highway Patrol troopers in Utah County were backlogged most of the day, running from one crash to another. There were no serious injuries, but a lot of fender bender accidents.
Most drivers said they held onto the steering wheel tight and took it slow on the roads. For a lot of people the dramatic change in the conditions took them by surprise.
"Even though we had heard the weather reports, I think actually experiencing (snow) again for the first time this year was surprising," said driver Rochelle Sink. "But you know, it makes me think of Christmas. I have been listening to Christmas music all day.
For many people, the new snow means better skiing and snowboarding. But Tuesday's storm comes with a warning: the avalanche danger is considerable for much of the Wasatch Front and northern Utah's mountains.
Avalanche forecasters said there is a risk of having recent warm temperatures followed by sudden freezing temperatures and snow.
"It's like putting a bunch of bricks on top of potato chips," said Craig Gordon, a forecaster with the Utah Avalanche Center. "So what we're going to see is a pretty tricky if not widespread avalanche cycle as a result."
Gordon said the statewide storm is layering on top of weak and unstable snow, and that could cause problems for backcountry enthusiasts.
He said if you need to get out in the fresh powder, stick to south-facing slopes. They did not have any pre-existing snow so they're not as risky.
Also, stay inside resort boundaries, Gordon warned. He said the groomed areas will be safer in the resorts, but the danger could change as the storm changes Tuesday and into Wednesday.
"You've got to be prepared for your own rescue," he said. "Remember though, that the best avalanche is the one you don't even trigger in the first place."
Check the current avalanche conditions at Utahavalanchecenter.org.
Of course that's the silver lining for a lot of people: with Christmas eve three weeks from away, the storm is helping it feel more like the holiday season.
Officials at the Utah Department of Transportation said all of its snow plows were out on the roads Tuesday evening, and they were asking drivers to leave the trucks plenty of room to do their work. That means staying at least 500 feet behind the plow trucks, officials said.
UDOT drivers were busy all day with many of them working since 4 a.m.
During both the morning and evening commutes, multiple slide-offs and accidents were reported in Salt Lake County.
The snow showers were expected to taper off for northern Utah later Tuesday and move into southern Utah. Get the complete forecast at the KSL Weather Center.
Get traffic updates on KSL Newsradio, and check commute times on the home page of ksl.com.
Contributing: Haley Smith, Andrew Adams and Alex Cabrero