Snow closures serve as reminder to make your car winter-ready

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SANDY — Hundreds of people were stranded for seven hours on I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge along the Arizona Strip late Saturday night because of a rare snowstorm.

Many found themselves unprepared to stay in their vehicle for hours.

"We'll, we have a blanket and water, but if we got stuck, we might have a hard time getting out because we don't have a shovel,” Melissa Jolley said. “We've got four-wheel drive, so that's a bonus, and our cellphones.”

But Jennifer Pusey admits she might suffer if she got stuck on the highway.

“My husband is from Minnesota,” Pusey said. “His parents, when we were first married, gave us this handy little winter car kit, but I am sure we need to restock it.”

AAA Utah spokeswoman Rolayne Fairclough said people often gear up for long trips. It's the short trips when they don't think about being prepared for winter driving that can catch them off guard.

“Make sure you have an emergency kit with a blanket, some food, some water, some liquid, and a cellphone charger. That's a real good thing, too, in case your cellphone dies on you,” Fairclough said.

A reserve of fuel is also critical.

Make sure you have an emergency kit with a blanket, some food, some water, some liquid, and a cellphone charger. That's a real good thing, too, in case your cellphone dies on you.

–Rolayne Fairclough, AAA spokeswoman

“Make sure you always have about a half tank of gas," she said. "That way, if you need to take a detour or idle for a while, you can.”

But during storms that impact a big area, calling for help — whether emergency road service or law enforcement — can take hours.

“Be prepared to take care of yourself," Fairclough said. "At least keep yourself warm and safe while you're waiting for help."

Along with a coat and gloves, people can also use floor mats, newspapers or paper maps to insulate themselves from the cold.

If snowbound, AAA recommends people stay in their vehicles. It provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate them.

If idling the car, people need to make sure the exhaust pipe is cleared of snow to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide.

Cold temperatures cause problems in northern Utah

Along the Wasatch Front Monday morning, cold temperatures made it difficult for four Salt Lake City School District buses to start. Other buses in the district also faced delays of 25 to 30 minutes due to the weather and road conditions.

The Utah Department of Transportation's snowplows worked to clear the roads, but UDOT said colder temperatures made it difficult for its brine solution to work. The salt was freezing to the roadway, so UDOT planned to change the mixture.

Temperatures aren’t expected to rise much this week. KSL meteorologist Kevin Eubank said Tuesday morning in the St. George area will be extremely cold, with a low of 2 degrees.

Over the next few days, there will be a gradual warmup, with lows going from 2 to 28. The high will go from 35 Tuesday to 51 by Monday, Eubank said.

Along the Wasatch Front, the overall pattern isn’t going to change, he said. There will be sunshine, but cold temperatures will remain, with highs in the 20s and lows in the single digits.

Eubank said also to expect air quality to deteriorate the rest of the week. Temperatures are expected to increase to 34 by Monday, with a low of 22.

Contributing: Andrew Adams



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