Heavy rains lead to slick roads, 1 rollover

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Turbulent weather patterns continue to wreak havoc throughout southern Utah and many motorists are finding travel difficult during the unexpected downpours.

Heavy rains Friday snapped power lines and downed tree limbs. One St. George couple found their new SUV under the arms of a massive tree that was ripped from the ground during a powerful windstorm.

Many motorists Thursday afternoon suddenly rolled up on a particularly wild rainstorm and pulled to the shoulder of Interstate 15 to wait it out. One vehicle began hydroplaning on the slick pavement and veered off the roadway before rolling over into an embankment.

Low visibility and excess water puddling on Interstate 15 making driving conditions hazardous , Washington County, Utah, June 30, 2016 | Photoby Cody Blowers, St. George News
Low visibility and excess water puddled on Interstate 15 this week making driving conditions hazardous, Washington County, Utah, June 30, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Just after 4:30 p.m. Thursday officers and emergency personnel were dispatched to a reported rollover on Interstate 15 northbound at Exit 36.

Upon arrival officers found a white Ford Fiesta overturned on the right-hand shoulder of the freeway, Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Chris Lewis said.

The man driving told officers that he and his female passenger started hydroplaning as they traveled north on Interstate 15, and began drifting into the right lane, Lewis said.

The vehicle continued sliding to the right until it left the roadway completely before rolling over into an embankment, the man told police. No other vehicles were involved in the incident and both occupants sustained only minor injuries.

The vehicle, however, suffered extensive damage and was towed from the scene, Lewis said.

Meanwhile, as the rains increased large puddles began to form on the roadway making driving conditions increasingly dangerous.

Drivers were pulling over and parking, waiting for the downpour to subside. They were hoping to avoid the risk of hydroplaning and losing control of their vehicles, the officer said.

“Numerous vehicles were pulling off the Interstate and as the cars lined up along the right shoulder, reports of accidents began coming in, but they were actually drivers who pulled off to wait for better road conditions,” Lewis said.

Sudden rainfall on dry roadways can produce a slick surface very quickly which can lead to loss of control. Wet pavement contributes to nearly 1.2 million traffic crashes yearly. Reducing speed and distance between vehicles can help drivers stay safe, according to the AAA.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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





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