Update Dec. 25, 2016: The National Weather Service has canceled its winter weather advisory for lower elevations of Utah’s Dixie while UDOT yet has road alerts in effect. Read more: Weather, road updates for Christmas Day.
Updated Dec. 24, 2016 at 3:30 a.m. – see Saturday update sections (2).
ST. GEORGE — The red rocks of Utah’s Dixie are expected to be whitewashed this weekend, just in time for the Christmas holiday.
A major winter snowstorm will bring hazardous driving conditions to much of the state tonight through early Monday morning, according to an advisory released Friday by the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City.
See video in the media player top of this report.
According to a weather advisory issued Saturday at 2:30 a.m. 1 to 5 inches of snow accumulation are expected for Utah’s Dixie above 3,500 feet, including Interstate 15 north of Washington City and Zion National Park, with less than a half inch closer to St. George.
Snow above 3,500 feet will be heavy at times Saturday into the evening before diminishing Saturday night. More particularly, the Weather Service advises snow levels are expected at 5,000-6,000 feet Saturday morning, down to 4,500 feet in the afternoon and into the valley floor Saturday night.
Regionally, areas expected to be impacted include southwest Utah, Utah’s Dixie and Zion National Park, south-central Utah, Glen Canyon Recreation Area-Lake Powell and central and southern mountains.
Other portions of the state affected include 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, central mountains and southwest Wyoming.
Light valley rain and snow along with snow in the mountains and gusty south winds will develop Friday night. Winter driving conditions will develop across mountain passes and colder valleys.
A winter storm will impact the area during the upcoming holiday weekend Saturday through Monday. The forecast estimates 4 to 8 inches of valley snowfall and 1 to 3 feet in the mountains. (See Saturday update section above.)
Significant travel impacts are likely through the holiday weekend. Those planning travel across the area during this time are encouraged to adjust travel plans if possible, plan for winter driving conditions and carry a winter survival kit.
The Utah Department of Transportation’s traffic advisory anticipates moderately severe conditions for SR-14 between Cedar City and Highway 89, SR-20 between Interstate 15 and Highway 89 and SR-12 between Highway 89 and SR-24. Highly severe conditions are anticipated for SR-143 between Parowan and Panguitch and SR-153 from Beaver to Eagle Point Resort. UDOT urges caution and preparedness on these roads.
Saturday update: At 1 a.m. Saturday, UDOT’s updated forecast anticipates periods of heavy road snow and worsening travel conditions Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning, with road conditions improving in Southern Utah by late Sunday.
Northern Utah routes can receive additional road snow into Monday morning before ending, UDOT’s advisory states. Further:
High caution for impaired travel is expected for much of the western half of the state (along and north/west of a Vernal-Price-Loa-Kanab line); with the heaviest road snow along all mountain routes, valley routes from Cedar City to Nephi westward through the West Desert, and valley routes north and west of Brigham City.
Minor to moderate impacts are expected across southeastern Utah, due to a shorter duration of winter weather Saturday night through Sunday morning.
Minor/brief road slush accumulations may even develop in St. George Saturday night into early Sunday morning.
According to UDOT, routes listed below will experience weather-related travel concerns Saturday through Monday morning.
- I-15, Idaho border through St. George.
- I-215, Entire belt route.
- I-80, Entire route.
- I-70, Cove Fort at the I-15 junction through the San Rafael Swell.
- I-84, Entire route.
- U.S. 89, Idaho border through Kanab.
- U.S. 40, Entire route.
- U.S. 191, Wyoming border to Vernal; Duchesne across Indian Canyon, through Price to Woodside; La Sal Junction at milepost 103 to Blanding.
- U.S. 6, Nevada border to Spanish Fork, across Soldier Summit, through Price.
- U.S. 491, Entire route.
See UDOT’s road conditions webpage for more specific details on routes throughout the state.
Vehicle Preparation and Safety Precautions for Winter Weather
Stay in your vehicle
- Disorientation occurs quickly in wind-driven snow and cold.
- Run the motor about 10 minutes each hour for heat.
- Open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked.
- Make yourself visible to rescuers.
- Turn on the dome light at night when running engine.
- Tie a colored cloth (preferably red) to your antenna or door.
- Raise the hood indicating trouble after snow stops falling.
- Exercise from time to time, by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.
- Wear a hat, half your body heat loss can be from the head.
- Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
- Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves.
- Loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers is best, trapped air insulates and layers can be removed to avoid perspiration and subsequent chills.
- Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent and hooded.
- Safely removing tires and upholstery from your vehicle and lighting them on fire in a cleared area will create smoke to facilitate your being located.
Supplies recommended to be kept in your vehicle in case of emergencies
- Cellphone; portable charger and extra batteries.
- Windshield scraper.
- Battery-powered radio, extra batteries.
- Flashlights, extra batteries.
- Snack food.
- Extra hats, coats, mittens, change of clothes.
- Chains or rope.
- Tire chains.
- Spare gas.
- Canned compressed air with sealant (emergency tire repair).
- Road salt and sand.
- Booster / jumper cables.
- Emergency flares.
- Bright colored flag; help signs.
- Lighter / Matches (waterproof matches and a can to melt snow for water).
- First Aid kit – (Basic First Aid courses are recommended).
- Spare water.
- Hi-lift jack.
- Spare tire with keys for locking lug nuts.
- Spare keys.
- Tow strap.
- Tool kit.
- Duct tape.
- Trash bags.
- Road maps.
- Towels, paper towels.
The above recommendations were compiled in 2015 from the Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue website, the Center for Disease Control’s emergency winter weather checklist, the U.S. Search and Rescue Task Force’s website on blizzard preparedness. This is a list of suggestions, in no particular order of priority, and should not be presumed exhaustive.
Printable / savable pdf: Vehicle Preparation and Safety Precautions for Winter Weather.
UDOT chain and snow tire infographic:
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