Slushy roads to affect weekend travel near Brian Head, Panguitch Lake, northern Utah routes

Background stock photo shows a long downhill straightaway on southbound Interstate 15 in Southern Utah in wintertime. | Photo by Willowpix / iStock / Getty Images Plus; Grunge Utah highway shield by uptonpark / iStock / Getty Images Plus; composite by St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A storm system bringing light snow and gusty winds to parts of Utah is expected to create potentially hazardous road conditions Saturday night into Sunday morning. Affected routes in Southern Utah include areas near Brian Head and Panguitch Lake.

Travel map indicates routes affected by snow and wind gusts in Utah Saturday and Sunday | Image courtesy Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News / Cedar City News | Click on image to enlarge

The storm system will move east across the state Saturday night, according to the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City. The associated cold front will reach northwest Utah Saturday morning, then continue south early Sunday.

Gusty southwest winds will develop ahead of the storm system Saturday and continue through Sunday morning. Wind gusts of more than 45 mph are expected to affect motorists in parts of the west desert and portions of Interstate 70 from Salina to the Colorado border, according to the Utah Department of Transportation.

Precipitation will start out as rain for most valley areas outside of higher mountain summits Saturday afternoon. Primary road snow impacts through Sunday will be largely confined to higher mountain passes.

Southern Utah highways affected include state Route 143 over Brian Head Flats, Parowan to Panguitch, and state Route 153 to Puffer Lake/Eagle Point with light snow accumulation and slushy roads expected from approximately 9 p.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday.

A complete list of routes affected in Northern Utah areas can be found on the UDOT website.

Vehicle preparation and safety precautions for winter weather driving.

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.

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.

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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