Hazardous Weather Outlook, travel alerts issued for much of Utah

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ST. GEORGE The National Weather Service in Salt Lake City has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for the western two-thirds of Utah and Southwest Wyoming which is in effect Sunday into the night. With the rain turning to snow in higher elevations, several accidents have already occurred, and the Utah Highway Patrol has issued the suggestion to motorists to either stay home or alter travel plans if possible.

A cold front crossing the state will bring a mix of gusty winds and accumulating snow to portions of Utah. Expect gusty southerly winds to continue across the western valleys of Utah ahead of the cold front, with a short period of strong northwest winds behind the cold front Sunday evening.

Affected areas

Cache Valley, northern Wasatch Front, Salt Lake and Tooele valleys, southern Wasatch Front, Great Salt Lake Desert and mountains, Wasatch Mountain valleys, Wasatch Mountains near Interstate-80 North, Wasatch Mountains south of I-80, western Uinta Mountains, Wasatch Plateau-Book Cliffs, Western Uinta Basin-Castle Country, San Rafael Swell, Sanpete-Sevier valleys, west-central Utah, southwest Utah, Utah’s Dixie and Zion National Park, south-central Utah, Glen Canyon Recreation Area-Lake Powell, central mountains, southern mountains and southwest Wyoming.

Snow accumulations

Significant snow accumulations are expected across the mountains of Utah through Sunday night.

Timing

Snow showers will continue across the Utah mountains into early Monday with accumulations expected. A cool and moist air mass will remain across much of the outlook area midweek.

Travel impacts

Travel will be impacted across all mountain routes this evening as snow intensities increase and snow levels lower. Visibilities may be reduced in areas of blowing snow.

Accumulating snow will create winter driving conditions along high-elevation routes through the Southern Utah mountains. This includes Highway 89 over Long Valley Junction, state Route 12 and state routes 14 and 143.

Traffic Alerts

Utah Highway Patrol:

Drivers should stay at home or alter travel plans if at all possible, Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Jared Cormia said.

“Anywhere from milepost 43 up through 91 or 92, there’s probably 25 to 30 either crashes or slide-offs,” Cormia said, adding that only a couple of the accidents resulted in injury. None of the injuries were serious.

It is important to slow down in the snowy slushy weather, Trooper Stephen Esplin said. The slush is worse than snow or rain in many ways, because of the way it packs into tire treads. When the slushy, icy snow in the tires spin against the slippery roads, the momentum takes over causing slide-offs and accidents.

Utah Department of Transportation Emergency Alert:

Iron and Beaver County I-15 northbound and southbound from Beaver to New Harmony there are multiple crash in the area. Use caution and expect some delay. There are multiple accidents and slide-offs between milepost 39 and 130.

Gusty southwest winds are expected to continue ahead of an approaching cold front through Sunday afternoon.  Wind gusts of 45+ mph will remain a threat, with 55+ mph wind gusts possible in wind-prone areas across the West Desert and the Point of the Mountain.

The main concern for road snow through early afternoon will be along the highest elevation mountain passes.  Valley and lower elevation routes will continue to see periods of rain showers with a few rumbles of thunder.

The cold front will change rain to snow Sunday afternoon and evening, with road snow levels falling through low-mid canyons.

Southern Utah map, March 6, 2016| Courtesy of Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News

The following map information is based on: degree of caution, weather impact on travel and recommended action.

GREEN: Low-minimal to normal caution.

YELLOW: moderate-minor or intermittent weather-related road concerns anticipated; monitor 511, UDOT traffic webpage and National Weather Service forecasts.

RED: High concerns, travel expected to be impaired. Be prepared for hazardous road conditions; monitor 511, UDOT Traffic webpage and National Weather Service forecasts. Be prepared to alter travel plans as necessary.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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