Road report: From slushy to closed entirely, Southern Utah roads continue to experience impact of storm

Stock image | Photo by LeManna/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE— In the midst of a snowstorm that’s expected to last through Friday morning, officials say that roads in various parts of Southern Utah are wet and slushy but not yet snow-packed or icy. However, officials are still advising motorists to use caution.

The winter storm that started Wednesday night is expected to last until 9 a.m. Friday morning, bringing up to 6 inches of snow to the St. George area, according to the National Weather Service.

Road conditions in St. George are slushy, according to the St. George Police Department, who said they have seen a few minor fender-benders but no major weather-related crashes as of yet.

“It’s wet and slushy but nothing major so far. … We are surviving so far,” St. George Police officer Tiffany Atkin said.

The storm has prompted delayed opening of schools in Washington County, as well as closure of some roads and parks. Roads across the entire state are subject to periodic weather-related travel concerns, according to the Utah Department of Transportation traffic website.

Read more: UPDATED: Southern Utah braces for next storm, prepares for potential road, national park, school closures

UDOT reported snow-covered roads and icy patches before 8 a.m. Thursday on Interstate 15 through St. George. Road conditions as of 11 a.m. are slushy, and wet roads are expected through Thursday afternoon.

On state Route 18, UDOT has reported snowy road conditions across the Pine Valley mountains that are expected to last until 6 a.m. Friday morning. Plows are running, UDOT said, but snow is currently sticking to the highway and may be slick.

Old Highway 91 over Utah Hill is experiencing limited visibility and snow-packed roads, according to a Washington County Emergency Services Facebook page. While country road crews are working to keep the road plowed, motorists are encouraged to avoid traveling in the area, especially on roads at higher elevations.

State Route 9/Zion Mt. Carmel Highway is closed both directions through Zion National Park.

A light snow continues to fall in Cedar City, and as of publication of this report at 11:30 a.m., roads are wet but the snow isn’t sticking. However, state Route 143 is closed both directions south of Brian Head between mile marker 18 and 28 because of weather conditions, with no estimated time of reopening.

Map showing current weather advisories as of 10:50 a.m., Feb. 21, 2019 | Image from National Weather Service-Salt Lake City office, St. George News | Click to enlarge

Tire chains are required for semi-tractor trailers – and recommended for other vehicles – traveling north on I-15 between mile marker 33 and 43 (from the Black Ridge to near Kanarraville), according to UDOT.

For traffic cameras between St. George and Cedar City, visit the UDOT traffic website.

Snow plows are currently running on the northern part of I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge, and road conditions are good, Arizona Department of Public Safety Sgt. John Bottoms said.

The southern part of the gorge is experiencing rain and wet roads, Bottoms told St. George News. Officers have seen a couple of minor traffic and weather-related accidents so far.

“If motorists will slow down a little, it will ensure that they reach their destinations today,” Bottoms said.

Precautionary and preparedness actions

A winter weather advisory for snow means periods of snow will cause primarily travel difficulties. Expect snow-covered roads and limited visibility, and use caution while driving.

Getting ready

  • Be aware of road conditions. UDOT recommends checking CommuterLink 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.
  • Have emergency supplies in the car. A basic winter emergency kit may include items like a flashlight, batteries, snacks, water, gloves, boots and a first-aid kit.

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.

Additional information on winter driving can be found at the UDOT website, as well as UDOT’s Commuterlink for current road and weather conditions, or dial 511.

For the most current conditions, warnings and advisories, go to the National Weather Service-Salt Lake City office website.

Email: mshoup@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @MikaylaShoup

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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