The U.S. National Weather Service has announced a winter storm warning for Tooele County and most of Utah as of 4:25 a.m. Wednesday.
The storm is expected to bring several inches of snow and start to give way late Friday evening and early Saturday morning. The winter storm warning remains in effect until 10 a.m. Saturday.
According to the NWS, “active weather is expected to continue across Utah and southwest Wyoming through Saturday morning. Significant snowfall can be expected across many areas during this time. This snow will impact many major travel routes including all of I-15 and most of I-70 through Utah, and I-80 especially from the Tooele Valley through southwest Wyoming.”
Today, snowfall and wind gusts as high as 36 miles per hour are occurring Tooele. This evening, snow is expected with winds between 9 and 13 miles per hour. Total daytime snow accumulation of two to four inches is expected along with another two to four inches in the evening.
“Snow will continue across portions of northern Utah and gradually spread into west-central and southwest Utah later today and tonight. Significant accumulations are possible, especially near the Idaho border, in the Ogden Valley, and in the mountains across far southwest Utah. The snow will impact travel at times,” according to a hazardous weather outlook from the NWS.
Thanksgiving drivers should take extra caution while travelling over the holiday. The NWS says that snow on Thursday is likely, along with winds between 5 and 10 miles per hour. One to three inches of new snow accumulation is possible. Snowfall and winds are expected to continue into the late evening.
On Friday, snow is likely and winds between 13 and 15 miles per hour are expected as well. The snowfall is expected to break up late into the evening with a 50% chance of snow. The winter storms are expected to mostly give way on Saturday to partly sunny skies, and mostly sunny skies for the following week.
A tweet posted by the Utah Highway Patrol on their official Twitter page on Nov. 25 is a testament to the dangers that winter weather conditions can pose to roadway travellers around the state of Utah.
The tweet reads: “Last tally tonight: 270 crashes investigated by our troopers statewide. We still have 25 to 30 crashes pending that we’re trying to get to. Be patient with us if you are waiting. If your vehicle is drivable move it off the interstate, if not, stay in it with your seatbelt on.”
On Oct. 28, the UHP posted a video emphasizing the importance of safe and proactive winter driving on its Twitter page. In the video UHP spokesperson Sgt. Nick Street speaks to viewers and offers roadway advice to travelers.
“UHP would like to remind drivers to, number one, check their equipment — make sure that your tires have an appropriate tread for the roadway conditions that are going to present themselves through the rest of the winter,” Street said.
“Number two: In adverse winter weather driving conditions, you need to increase your following distance,” he said. “State law recommends two seconds. We recommend you increase that on wet to icy roads with snow falling to 8 to 10 seconds. You also need to plan on driving 12 to 15 seconds ahead — make sure your vision is down the road a good distance so that you can see those cars that haven’t taken the proper precautions, when they spin out in their lane, you can avoid them or avoid other road hazards.”
Street called attention to the hazards associated with driving over the speed limit, especially in the winter months, stating that the posted speed limit may even be too fast.
“The other key thing about avoiding crashes in winter weather driving conditions is speed. You’ve got to slow down,” Street said. “The posted speed limit is a maximum speed and it definitely does not apply during the winter months where wet and icy road conditions are present and that’s something you need to take into account so that you know you need to leave a little bit earlier to get to your destination.”
The Utah Department of Transportation recommends several ways drivers can plan ahead to help reduce congestion and delays, one they call “Travelwise”.
“TravelWise is an initiative that invites Utahns to rethink their trip,” said Courtney Samuel, UDOT Region 2 Senior Communication Manager.
“By driving less and driving smarter, individuals, businesses and communities can ultimately help improve congestion, optimize mobility, air quality and conserve energy in Utah. Some of these strategies include carpooling, public transit, planning ahead before you start your trip, teleworking, and alternating work schedules around rush hour traffic. These may not apply to everyone but these are some of the methods that can help people around the traffic.”
Samuel also noted the importance of driving attentively and safely. He stressed slowing down in winter weather conditions to provide ample reaction time.
“As always, we ask all drivers to give their full and complete attention to the roadway. Please put down your phone, make sure you buckle up, avoid any other possible distractions, drive sober, abide by all traffic laws, and drive the correct speed limit,” he said.