N. Utah fog creating dangerous icy road conditions

Jan 23 2013 - 10:51am

BOUNTIFUL -- Morning commuters are being asked to slow down to avoid crashes like what occurred Tuesday.

Utah Highway Patrol Cpl. Todd Johnson said that, within minutes Tuesday morning, three accidents occurred around 100 North on Interstate 15. Three people were transported to local hospitals with non life-threatening injuries. The first accident was reported at 6:46 a.m.

"People are driving too fast for the road conditions," Johnson said.

The fog is creating ice crystals, which quickly create black ice on the highway.

I-15 northbound lanes in Bountiful and Centerville were closed for almost an hour. Southbound lanes became clogged, and a number of fender benders occurred as commuters rubber-necked to see what was going on in the northbound lanes, Johnson said.

Legacy Parkway also became congested as people tried to find an alternative route, he said.

Davis dispatchers said at least 10 accidents involving multiple cars were reported.

Mike Conger, meteorlogist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City, said the Top of Utah is not going to see much improvement in temperatures in the next few days.

Temperatures on Tuesday morning, dipped to 4 degrees in most areas along the Wasatch Front.

"Unfortunately, there is not going to be a lot of change north of the Salt Lake area," Conger said. "We can expect the fog to roll back in and ice crystals to fall. Basically a repeat of Tuesday on Wednesday."

Late tonight or early Thursday morning a weak system is expected to move in along the north-central Wasatch Front, "which could make it more treacherous on Thursday morning," Conger said. "We'll have cold roads and a fine snow, which makes for a messy commute."

The "gunky air" is not expected to stay in the area for the remaining week.

More snow may move in this weekend, which could break up the fog and haze by the early part of next week, Conger said.

"That's the best chance we will have in awhile," he said.

John Gleason, spokesman with the Utah Department of Transportation, said the

single-digit temperatures, along with the fog, "presents unique challenges" when it comes to keeping the roads clear.

The moisture from the ice crystals gets trapped on the asphalt and creates black ice.

"Drivers don't realize they have hit black ice until it is too late," Gleason said.

Gleason said icy conditions were part of what led to the deaths of Garrett Barker and Kelsey Halterman, their unborn son and five dogs on Saturday after their truck slid off an overpass on Interstate 215.

Gleason said crews are out pretreating roads to stop the black ice, but it is difficult to get to all the roads before the black ice forms.

"It is much more challenging than plowing during a snowstorm," he said. "We're asking drivers to please slow down."

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