Utah forecast: Christmas storm relents, leaves state under blanket of snow, ice

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Inside, Utah’s children tore open presents, engulfing Christmas trees in tornadoes of gift wrap, glitter and the occasional broken ornament.

But outside, it was the holiday weekend writ large, with feet of real snow flocking forests of pines, slung with icicles lit by infrequent sunshine. Even the day after Christmas, motorists could muse about the comparative efficacy of sleighs as they slid, lurched and spun tires on the snow- and ice-packed roads of the Wasatch Front.

The cycle of storms Friday through Sunday dumped record-setting amounts of snow in several locales. Spanish Fork recorded 14 inches, shattering a 1959 mark of 6 inches of the white stuff; Fillmore, in Millard County, amassed 9 inches, bettering a 24-hour mark of 6 set in 1959; Rich County’s Laketown and Sanpete County’s Manti measured 8 inches, breaking records of 4 and 6 inches, set in 1941 and 1981, respectively; and Provo reached 7.3 inches, retiring a 1920 mark of 6 inches.

Salt Lake City’s 8 inches remained noteworthy (an inch shy of a 1916 Christmas Day record), but paled in comparison to Payson’s 13 inches, the 12-inch total for Salem, the 10-inch blankets of white that smothered Springville, Sandy and Cottonwood Heights, or even Logan’s 9 inches.

But none of those impressive snowfalls could boast faced with the depths recorded in the state’s mountains, where Brian Head and Eagle Point resorts reported 72-hour totals of 43 and 42 inches, respectively; Powder Mountain Resort, 30; Deer Valley, 25; Snowbasin and Brighton resorts, 24 inches; Park City, 21; Solitude, 19; Snowbird, 18; and Sundance, 13 inches.

Monday dawned along the Wasatch Front with thermometers tumbling into the low teens ahead of a forecast daytime highs in the mid-20s. Tuesday, after waking to frigid temperatures in the single digits to low teens, is forecast to struggle to flirt with 30 degrees.

Not until Wednesday, which begins with lows in the upper teens, will the Salt Lake and Tooele valleys top freezing, though winds of 10 to 20 mph will make it feel much colder.

Southern Utah seems to have reached a bargain with Old Man Winter, ceding overnight lows in the 20s for daytime highs near 50 degrees in the afternoons extending into the midweek under mostly clear, sunny skies.

The Utah Division of Air Quality rated the entire state as “green,” or healthy, when it came to particulate pollution levels expected over the next couple of days.

The Utah Avalanche Center began Monday by warning of “high”risk for potentially deadly backcountry slides in the mountains above Logan. Avalanche danger was “considerable” for the Ogden, Salt Lake, Uintas, Provo, Moab and Abajo mountains, with only central Utah’s Skyline district at “low” risk.

The Utah Department of Transportation, citing “residual icy roads,” cautioned drivers Monday to be especially careful navigating the region’s interstates and highways. Both U.S. 191, along the Utah-Wyoming border, and State Route 143, from Brian Head to Mammoth Creek, remained closed as of dawn Monday.

For more extensive forecast information visit The Salt Lake Tribune’s weather page at http://www.sltrib.com/news/weather/.

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