The Utah Highway Patrol responded to more than 130 crashes on Utah’s roadways Wednesday as several inches of snow fell during the morning commute, and troopers are urging drivers to slow down with more snow in the forecast for later this week.
Between 4:30-11:30 a.m., there were 23 crashes and 12 slide-offs that occurred on Interstates 15 and 84, with all but one of the crashes occurring on I-15, UHP said.
“All of the crashes are just from people going too fast, every one of them,” UHP Sgt. Mike Holt said. “We live in Utah and we should be used to this. It’s not even the first storm.”
Holt said the solution “is pretty simple — have good tires and slow down when it’s wet and slushy and the plows haven’t been by yet. Help yourself. It’s very easy to avoid.”
As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, Ogden had received 4 inches of snow, while Brigham City had received 3.1 inches and Farmington 2.2 inches, the National Weather Service of Salt Lake City reported.
Storms are expected throughout Friday along the Wasatch Front, including a system Thursday morning that is anticipated to carry valley rain and mountain snow, the National Weather Service of Salt Lake City said.
Utah Department of Transportation spokesman John Gleason said UDOT expects mountain areas to be hit especially hard over the next few days and urged motorists to make sure vehicles are properly equipped to handle extreme conditions.
A winter storm warning for the Wasatch Mountains goes into effect from 4 a.m. Thursday morning until 5 p.m. Friday. The mountains could see up to 1-2 feet of snow, with some locally higher amounts possible. Wind could also gust as high was 45 mph, the NWS said.
“We’re going to see more snow in the very near future,” Gleason said. “(Motorists) should check the forecast before they leave their homes and give themselves plenty of time to get to their destination. In this type of weather, you’re just not going to be able to make up time on the road.”
The NWS said all mountain routes, even Interstate 80, will see winter driving conditions Thursday and Friday, while snow will likely develop for the valleys during Friday morning’s commute.
Avalanche danger will also be on the rise throughout the end of the week, expecting to reach “high” danger levels by Friday, according to the Utah Avalanche Center. That means both human triggered and natural avalanches in backcountry areas are likely.
“Strong winds, coupled with dense heavy snow will overload a weak, pre-existing snowpack, creating tricky and potentially very dangerous backcountry avalanche conditions,” the center in a press release.