Weather service: Winter storms, high winds headed for Southern Utah

This file photos shows snow falling as a storm moves across Southern Utah, Brian Head, Utah, Jan. 7, 2024 | Photo courtesy of Erin Wyson, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Before you don a pair of sunglasses and head out to enjoy the weekend, be prepared for winter storm conditions and high winds throughout portions of Southern Utah.

Shaded areas on map show areas under the winter storm warning issued by the National Weather Service | Image courtesy of the National Weather Service, St. George News

Early Friday morning, the National Weather Service Salt Lake City Office issued a winter storm warning for the southern and central mountain ranges of Southern Utah including the cities of Cove Fort, Fish Lake, Joes Valley, Brian Head and Alton.

The warning is in effect from 2 p.m. Saturday through 5 a.m. Monday. Heavy snow is expected, with total snow accumulations of 1 to 2 feet, locally up to 3 feet in the Tushar Range. Winds gusting as high as 75 mph on exposed ridgelines can also be expected.

Winter driving conditions are expected. Traction restrictions may be enacted. Areas of blowing snow will significantly reduce visibility.

The weather service also issued a high wind warning for Southern Utah in effect from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 p.m. Sunday. Southwest winds 35 to 45 mph with gusts up to 70 mph
are expected.

Shaded areas on map show areas under the high wind warning issued by the National Weather Service | Image courtesy of the National Weather Service, St. George News

Portions of south-central Utah are included in this warning, as well as Capitol Reef National Park and Vicinity, Western Canyonlands and Glen Canyon Recreation
Area/Lake Powell.

In Washington County, including the cities of St. George, Hurricane, Ivins and Springdale, a wind advisory is in effect from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday. Southwest winds of 25-35 mph with gusts up to 55 mph can be expected, according to the weather service.

High winds may move loose debris, damage property and cause power outages. Travel will be difficult due to crosswinds, especially for high-profile vehicles and vehicles with trailers.

Very rough, dangerous conditions will occur on Lake Powell and other area lakes.

Preparation/preparedness actions

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.

For the most current conditions, warnings and advisories, go to the National Weather Service-Salt Lake City office website. Additional information on driving conditions can be found at the UDOT website, as well as UDOT’s Commuterlink for current road and weather conditions, or dial 511.

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