Rare freezing rain creates icy roads, 'fender banging' commute

Friday , January 25, 2013 - 5:35 AM

OGDEN — Freezing rain conditions “rare” to the area during the Thursday morning commute had emergency personnel responding to numerous accidents, and snowplows out spreading sand on slick roads.

Davis County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers reported emergency personnel responding to more than 30 traffic accidents Thursday morning.There was no report of any serious injuries, but there was a lot of “fender banging” going on, one dispatcher reported.

The numbers were similar in Weber County, where public safety dispatchers reported 29 accidents since 6 a.m., some of those slide-offs due to conditions.

Because of the icy conditions on major state routes, the Utah Department of Transportation issued on Wednesday and Thursday, an “icy roads” advisory, stating some roads in Cache Valley would be closed due to slick roadways. Other roads along the Wasatch Front were also to be impacted by extremely slick conditions, including routes in Davis and Weber counties, according to UDOT spokesman Vic Saunders.

UDOT advises motorists to use extreme caution when driving on slick roads, lengthening their stopping distance between vehicles.

“It is very rare for us in Utah (to have freezing rain). We had a little bit of freezing rain in the Logan area in 2009. This is something we generally never see here," National Weather Service Meteorologist Monica Traphagen said.

“It is the inversions fault,” Traphagen said of the conditions.

What is occurring is warmer rain is falling through the shallow, more cooler air created by the inversion, she said, causing the rain to freeze and “glaze ice” to form on the roads and the windshields of the vehicles.

The storm hit at about the same time the commute began, Traphagen said.

The freezing rain is forecast to continue throughout the morning, until temperatures get above freezing, Traphagen said, After that, the rain will turn to a standard rain, she said.

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