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SALT LAKE CITY — The National Weather Service extended a winter storm watch to include parts of central and southern Utah ahead of a storm system set to arrive late Monday that's expected to provide some mountainous areas with over a foot of snow.
The storm is the result of a cold front moving across Nevada and that's expected to arrive in Utah Monday afternoon, according to KSL meteorologist Grant Weyman.
"Through the evening, it slowly churns and digs a piece of the storm to the south; so late tonight, we're looking at snow and rain showers — it'll be mountain snow up north (to the) central part of the state all the way down toward the south as well," he said.
A winter storm watch, which was first issued as a winter weather advisory on Friday, goes into effect Monday evening and remains in effect through Tuesday evening. It covers the Wasatch Mountains south of I-80, the Wasatch Backcountry, Western Uinta Mountains, Central Mountains and Southern Mountains, including Alta, Alton, Brian Head, Brighton, Cove Fort, Fish Lake, Indian Canyon, Joeys Valley, Mirror Lake Highway, Moon Lake and Scofield.
The weather service states that heavy snow is possible in those areas with 8 to 18 inches of snow forecast for the mountains; however, "locally higher amounts" are also possible.
Another winter storm watch — also set to go into effect Monday evening — was issued for lesser-elevated areas in the state that are still expected to receive snow, including possible accumulations of up to 9 inches of snow. It covers parts of central and southern Utah, including Beaver, Cedar City, Delta, Fillmore, Little Sahara, Nephi, Milford and Scipio.
In both cases, the alerts advise motorists to prepare for slick roads and wind speeds up to 45 mph.
"Winter driving conditions can be expected all mountain routes including the higher summits of I-15 south of Nephi to Cedar City; along I-70, this includes the Salina and Clear Creek Summits as well as Cove Fort," the weather service wrote in the alert. "The weight from heavy, wet snow may stress power lines and deciduous trees with remaining leaves."
The Utah Department of Transportation announced Sunday it would extend its closure of Guardsman Pass as a result of the storm. There is no estimated time for the road to reopen.
As of 7:30 p.m., the agency had also instituted traction device requirements in Big Cottonwood and Little Cottonwood canyons. Snow tires, chains or other traction devices are required on state Routes 190 and 210 in the canyons due to winter driving conditions, according to UDOT. The requirements aren't expected to be lifted until at least midnight.
Meanwhile, a mixture of mostly rain and some snow is forecast for areas under 6,000 feet in elevation.
Temperatures are also expected to drop as a result of the storm system.
Forecast highs for the Wasatch Front and northern Utah dip from the upper 50s and lower 60s Monday, to mid to upper 40s Tuesday through the end of the workweek, while Cedar City's forecast high for Tuesday drops into the upper 30s. The high in St. George drops from mid-70s on Monday to mid-50s on Tuesday before it returns into the 60s the close out the workweek.
Northern Utah radar temporarily fails
Meteorologists once again have a better picture of the local weather when it comes to tracking the storm. The KMTX radar, which covers northern Utah, experienced a hardware failure, the National Weather Service said Monday afternoon.
After fears it would be out until at least Tuesday, technicians worked on the problem and were able to get the radar back online Monday night, the agency tweeted shortly before 8:30 p.m.
Let it rain!
While the storm may provide headaches for motorists, it's more good news for the state's hydrology situation.
The Wasatch Mountains already greatly benefitted from storms last week. For instance, Alta — with 4.6 inches of snow and 3.1 inches of total precipitation — has already received 3 1/2 times more precipitation in the first 10 days this month than its typical October norm, per weather service data.
But, places all across the Wasatch and northern Utah are either near or have surpassed monthly normals, according to the data.
- Alpine: 1.16 inches (October normal: 0.59 inches)
- Alta: 3.1 inches (October normal: 0.85 inches)
- Brighton-Silver Lake: 2.68 inches (October normal: 0.87 inches)
- Logan-Utah State University Campus: 0.42 inches (October normal: 0.45)
- Pineview Dam: 1.86 inches (October normal: 0.67 inches)
- Provo-BYU Campus: 1 inch (October normal: 0.48 inches)
- Salt Lake City International Airport: 0.77 inches (October normal: 1.26 inches)
- Tooele: 1.02 inches (October normal: 0.44 inches)
On the horizon
The wet October isn't over just yet. More precipitation is expected from another storm set to arrive in the Wasatch area Thursday, according to Weyman. The storm is forecast to provide more of the snow and rain mixture.
Full seven-day forecasts for areas across Utah can be found at the KSL Weather Center.
Contributing: Jacob Klopfenstein