Overnight snow and wind in the mountains; drive with caution

ST. GEORGE — Heavy snowfall combined with gusty winds is expected to complicate travel in mountainous areas through the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Shaded areas denote areas subject to a winter weather advisory issued by the National Weather Service for the southern mountains of Utah, radar time 3:18 p.m. March 27, 2017 | Image courtesy of National Weather Service, St. George News | Click on image to enlarge.

The National Weather Service in Salt Lake City has issued a winter weather advisory for the mountains of Southern Utah. Affected cities include Loa, Panguitch and Bryce Canyon.

Timing

Four to eight inches of heavy snowfall will become widespread Monday evening and continue overnight before tapering off by approximately 4 a.m. Tuesday.

Impacts

Snow is expected to fall below 6,500 feet combined with northwest wind gusts of up to 40 mph.

Winter driving conditions are expected to become more widespread Monday evening through the overnight hours. Pockets of blowing snow may develop near exposed ridgelines.

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon covered in snow, Bryce Canyon, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Ruby’s Inn/ Bryce Canyon Country Tourism Office, St. George News

While getting to and from Bryce Canyon National Park during the snowfall may be prove to be challenging, Lance Syrett of Ruby’s Inn at Bryce Canyon said the roads are usually plowed quickly and should be fully accessible Tuesday.

“If you want to see that last glimpse of ice on the stone, this would be a great time to travel up,” Syrett said of the park’s snow-capped hoodoos.

Precautionary & preparedness actions

A winter weather advisory for snow means that snow accumulations will cause primarily travel difficulties. Be prepared for snow covered roads. Use caution while driving.

For winter road conditions from the Utah Department of Transportation, visit the UDOT road conditions site or dial 511.

Vehicle preparation and safety precautions for winter weather driving.

Printable / savable pdf: Vehicle Preparation and Safety Precautions for Winter Weather.

Getting ready

  • Be aware of road conditions. UDOT recommends checking CommuterLink or UDOT’s current road conditions of calling 511 for road and weather conditions before leaving home.
  • Clear any frost and snow from the car’s lights and windows. Make an effort to see and be seen while driving.
  • Inspect the vehicle’s tires, fluids, wiper blades, lights and hoses. Preventative maintenance may save a car from breaking down and stranding drivers and passengers on the highway.
  • Allow for leeway in travel time. Expect to drive slowly in adverse weather conditions. High speeds can lead to skidding off the road and getting stuck in the snow.

Supplies recommended to keep 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.
  • Blankets.
  • 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.
  • Shovel.
  • Tow strap.
  • Tool kit.
  • Duct tape.
  • Trash bags.
  • Road maps.
  • Compass.
  • Towels, paper towels.

When driving

  • Take it slow. Drive well below posted speed limits and leave plenty of space between cars.
  • Approach intersections, off-ramps, bridges and shaded areas slowly. These areas are hot spots for black ice.
  • Slow down in cases of limited visibility, and be alert.
  • Whether someone drives an elevated SUV or a ground-kissing Toyota Prius, again, UDOT says to take it slow. Just because a truck has 4-wheel drive doesn’t change how it handles on the road, especially when traction goes out the window. Mother Nature is no respecter of automotive diversity.
  • Keep the vehicle’s speed down. The faster the car goes, the longer it takes to stop. Be slow on the accelerator or risk having the car skid when the next stop sign appears.
  • Do not use the car’s cruise control while ice and snow still abound.

In case of breakdown, 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.

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 and 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.

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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