Wed. Dec 11th, 2019

Monday storm closes Parleys Canyon, cancels MLK events, delays some at Salt Lake City flights

SALT LAKE CITY — One of the biggest storms so far this winter covered much of Utah in a fresh coat of snow Monday and wreaked havoc on travel across the state.

Officials urged motorists to avoid travel altogether as blizzard-like conditions created hazardous roads, and several canyons were closed due to the snow, crashes or avalanches and avalanche control.

According to KSL meteorologist Kevin Eubank, Alta received 20 inches of snow, while Solitude got 19 inches. Tooele was pounded with 11 inches of snow and Salt Lake City received 4 inches. Other ranges in Salt Lake Valley saw 11 inches on the Sandy bench while Sugar House neighborhood received 7 inches and West Jordan 8. The Bountiful bench recorded 7 inches in Davis County.

Snowbird Ski Resort reported a road closure of state Route 210 early afternoon due to a natural avalanche in Little Cottonwood Canyon, advising people to return to the resort or Alta Ski Area. Skiers were finally able to leave as the canyon was reopened to downhill-traffic only late Monday evening.

Within a few hours, the canyon was again closed to traffic. Unified police said it was expected to remain closed through the night while there was “extreme avalanche danger.”

Zion National Park officials also reported the closure of state Route 9 due to winter road conditions.

The storm also kept troopers busy. The Utah Highway Patrol responded to more than 209 crashes statewide, officials said.

“Keep your speeds slow in order to be ready for when you encounter icy patches of road surface,” the UHP cautioned.

KSL meteorologist Grant Weyman noted that while snow showers tapered off in the Wasatch Front by late afternoon, more snow is expected in the mountains through early Tuesday morning.

“It’s a little bit of a break with some sunshine tomorrow. Another wave comes in Wednesday, scattered snow. We don’t think Wednesday snow is nearly what we’re getting today … and then it’s pretty quiet by the end of the week,” Weyman said.

Eastbound I-80 in Parleys Canyon was closed in the morning as conditions became treacherous, westbound I-84 closed in Weber Canyon due to a semi rollover and authorities closed Little Cottonwood Canyon late in the morning for avalanche control, police and road agencies reported.

A backcountry closure was also in effect through 10 a.m. Tuesday, requiring skiers to stay east of Cardiff Bowl and areas underneath Cardiff in the north side of the canyon. Big Cottonwood Canyon was closed in the afternoon for avalanche control.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

Fresh snow covers the trees in Presidents Circle on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019.

Elsewhere, police agencies reported multiple crashes and slide-offs along the roads and hazardous conditions with low visibility in Tooele County.

Among Monday’s crashes, a teenage driver struck the Millcreek precinct of the Unified Police Department at 3900 South at 6:40 a.m. after losing control. It was unclear if the storm was a factor in the crash.

Both directions of I-15 were closed near the Kanosh area due to a live power line across the road after a semi slid off the interstate.

Heavy snow also led to the cancellation of two marches and rallies for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, one at Westminster College in the morning and another that was planned at the University of Utah for the afternoon, and also led to the closure of the Hogle Zoo.

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Rocky Mountain Power reported a significant outage late Monday morning affecting 12,000 households in Draper, Bluffdale and surrounding areas before crews were able to restore power within about six hours, according to the company.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Traffic is backed up in all directions at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon as the canyon experiences intermittent closures during a winter storm on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019.

Officials at Salt Lake City International Airport logged multiple impacts as a result of the storm, with airport authorities urging travelers to check with individual airlines for information.

The airport said 46 arrivals were delayed 30 to 60 minutes, 54 departures delayed between 30 minutes up to 2 hours and five flights were canceled.

Eubank said freezing overnight temperatures are expected to cause even more traffic problems into Tuesday morning.