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More than 180 crashes along Wasatch Front, more snow Thursday

Published December 26, 2012 10:55 pm

Law enforcement officers leap into action as the climbing snowfall is followed by rising accident totals.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

That dream of a white Christmas came true, but on the day after the holiday another round of snow made for a commuter's nightmare.

Much of the state saw snow on Wednesday. The National Weather Service tallied up snowfall that reached close to a foot in some parts of the state. Saratoga Springs got the most snow, piling up 10 inches on the day after Christmas.

"I like looking at it; I really don't like being in it," said cashier Cierra Caskey, who works at Sean's Smokehouse in Saratoga Springs.

Caskey, who commutes to work from Eagle Mountain, said her house had even more snow when she woke up Wednesday morning — about a foot of snow was covering the fences around a horse pasture on her property. She had to shovel out her driveway before she left the house. Earlier in the morning, blizzard conditions made it hard for her to see when she was driving.

"You couldn't see more than 15 feet in front of you when it was coming down earlier," Caskey said Wednesday evening.

Throughout the Wasatch Front, Utah Highway Patrol troopers and local law enforcement agencies scurried Wednesday to respond to a rash of accidents and slide-offs as a new blanket of white fell on already icy roads. The Utah Department of Transportation reported it had dispatched 300 snow plows to clear the region's interstates and highways.

"We've had troopers going from one crash or slide-off to another all morning in Salt Lake and Utah counties," said UHP Cpl. Todd Johnson.

By Wednesday night, UHP had responded to about 185 weather-related traffic calls in Salt Lake, Davis, Weber and Utah counties combined.

Salt Lake Valley police and fire departments added dozens more to their log sheets throughout the day. A 45-year-old man was hit by a pickup in Midvale after he apparently slid and fell into traffic near 7350 S. State St. Unified Police Detective Ken Hansen said the pedestrian was taken to Intermountain Medical Center in critical but stable condition. The man suffered injuries to his lower extremities but was expected to survive.

The weather's effects on the evening commute home extended into public transportation as well. The Utah Transit Authority temporarily adjusted bus routes in Ogden and one route in Salt Lake City to avoid driving on steep grades as the snow continued to fall.

UTA Spokesman Gerry Carpenter said Wednesday that four bus routes in Ogden would not go above Harrison Boulevard into the Weber State University campus. In Salt Lake, bus Route 11, which goes into the steep Avenues neighborhoods, would not go any higher than 11th Avenue.

The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for all of the state except for a pocket of eastern Utah around Duchesne, and portions of southeastern and southwestern Utah — though snow was falling in St. George, a rarity, Wednesday afternoon.

The advisory, in effect until midnight Thursday, predicted up to two feet of snow to the Wasatch Mountains, a foot on the benches and about six inches in northern valleys.

The Utah Avalanche Center's Thursday risk ratings found the Uintas and Skyline districts at "considerable" danger for potentially deadly snow slides, while Ogden, Salt Lake, Logan and Provo mountain slopes were rated at "moderate" risk.

Salt Lake City looked for a high temperature of 30 on Thursday, down 2 degrees from Wednesday's forecast high; Ogden expected a low of 23 degrees and a high of 29; Provo 24 and 30; Logan 19 and 25; Wendover 21 and 29; Duchesne 11 and 23; Cedar City 11 and 30; St. George 28 and 39; and Moab 19 and 33 degrees.

kbennion@sltrib.com

remims@sltrib.com