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Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News

Snowy blast slows traffic along Wasatch Front

By McKenzie Romero | Posted - Mar. 3, 2015 at 9:40 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — It took until March, but Utah is finally seeing some winter weather.

The storm that hit during the night and lasted into Tuesday morning dropped several inches of snow across the Wasatch Front, keeping plows busy and leading to dozens of traffic accidents.

The Utah Highway Patrol counted 88 accidents in Salt Lake County between midnight and 5 p.m. Tuesday, including 13 with injuries. An additional 36 accidents were recorded in Utah County, five of which led to injuries, while 10 more occurred in Davis County.

While responding to a weather-related crash in Parleys Canyon, a Utah Department of Transportation employee escaped a close call, managing to jump out of the path of an oncoming car. The driver who hit his UDOT vehicle, however, was taken to an area hospital in critical condition.

Weather conditions or distracted driving are being investigated as possible causes of that crash, UHP Sgt. Todd Royce said.

Another motorist was hospitalized in critical condition following a three-car pileup on I-15 near St. George.

Investigators are also looking into whether cold weather caused a switch error, putting two TRAX trains on the same track and leading to a slow-speed crash. No major injuries were reported in that crash.

A full foot of wet, heavy snow fell on the Bountiful bench during the storm, KSL meteorologist Kevin Eubank reported. The Canyons and Snowbird resorts also got a foot, Sundance Mountain Resort got 16 inches, and Solitude Mountain Resort got 13 inches.

Salt Lake City got 3 inches of snow, while Farmington, Clearfield and North Ogden topped 4 inches. Areas in Utah County saw up to 2 inches of snow.

As the snow fell on morning commuters, plows tried to keep up.

"The storm came in pretty fast and furious," said Jake Brown, who drives a plow for UDOT.

Brown supervises the nine plows that patrol Parleys Canyon. Drivers set out shortly after midnight Tuesday morning, and soon all available plows were on the road. They will be back out again early Wednesday morning patrolling for black ice, Brown said.

"This is actually our first big storm since Christmas," he said.

After seeing very little snow through the winter, even if more storms hit in coming weeks, UDOT will be saving about $8 million of its $24 million road salt budget, UDOT officials reported.

Contributing: Sam Penrod and Jed Boal

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