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WINTER ’92-93 SHAPING UP AS LEGEND

SHARE WINTER ’92-93 SHAPING UP AS LEGEND

The snows of '92-93 reached legendary proportions along the Wasatch Front on Friday, topping records reaching back at least 50 years. And snow removal budgets, motorists, forecasters and snow-covered buildings are approaching the breaking point.

The Wasatch Front has received 54.1 inches of snow so far this season. Normal for the entire season is 59.2 inches, according to Alan Haynes of the Salt Lake office of the National Weather Service. The second highest record for Jan. 8 was set in 1974, with 51.2 inches."The recent weather, with continuing storms hitting our county and our state, outstrips what government can reasonably do," said Salt Lake County Commissioner Randy Horiuchi, likening it to the floods of '83.

"We are pushing snow around the clock and have done so since this weather pattern began last week."

Portions of northern Utah interstates were closed periodically to clean up multiple-car accidents during the afternoon, and a state corrections officer was flown to LDS Hospital with serious injuries after he was hit by a car while investigating another accident on snowpacked I-15 at Point of the Mountain.

Flights were canceled or delayed at the Salt Lake International Airport as snow-removal crews worked to clear runways, but officials expected schedules to be back to normal Saturday.

The roof of a warehouse leased by the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. in West Valley City collapsed, as did roofs on two businesses in Orem and several carports throughout northern Utah.

The warehouse collapse at 2251 S. 3270 West caused about $100,000 damage, said West Valley Fire Battalion Chief "Moose" Barkdull. No one was inside at the time.

The roof of the building was flat and measured about 100 feet by 50 feet. Barkdull warned that snow should be removed from all roofs - particularly flat roofs - to prevent them from collapsing.

"I'm going to go home and do

mine tomorrow," the chief said.

In Orem, the aluminum roof at Rent-A-Center, 940 S. State St., crashed down about 2:15 p.m., demolishing televisions, VCRs, appliances and other household items. One person received a "bump on the head."

At 7:10 a.m. Friday, an estimated 100-square-foot section of roof collapsed at Rocky Mountain Printing, 1170 N. Industrial Park Drive. No one was injured.

After the latest blast on Friday, a number of private schools closed for the day, government workers were excused early, garbage pick up in some communities was canceled and traffic almost everywhere slowed to a crawl.

The Transportation Department also closed Provo and American Fork canyons and the road to Sundance Ski Resort indefinitely due to snowslides. Wasatch County officials closed the four-lane highway near Deer Creek Reservoir after a snowslide more than 150 yards long poured across U.S. 189. No one was injured, according to the sheriff's department.

Shovelers will likely get a chance to catch up Saturday. It is expected to be cloudy with some chance of snow, but Haynes said probably not more than a couple of inches, with highs in the 30s and lows of 15-20 degrees. Sunday will be mostly cloudy with a chance of rain or snow late in the day, accompanied by winds of 10-15 mph. Monday, another storm system is expected to move in.

As the snow was piling up Friday, so were the costs, the snow rows along roadways, the equipment breakdowns, plow driver fatigue and public frustrations.

Salt Lake County logged an average of 300 calls per hour during the series of storms that battered the valley this week, mostly complaints and questions about snow removal in residential areas.

"Unfortunately, subdivision streets, cul de sacs and secondary roads will have to wait until the priority routes are cleared," said Tosh Kano, county public works operations director. "We are going as fast as we can."

At a press conference Friday, Kano told reporters that the county's 85 snowplows must concentrate first on main thoroughfares, primary roads in subdivisions, bus routes, hills, school zones "and then everything else."

Because of the duration and severity of the most recent storms, crews in the unincorporated county and some of the cities may not reach the secondary roads, subdivisions and cul de sacs for several days. How many?

"Maybe not until Wednesday," Public Works Director Lonnie Johnson replied, pleading for the public's patience and cooperation. "We're as snowed in as everyone else."

On Friday, five of the county's plows were in the shop for repairs, a number that is likely to increase as the trucks continue to operate around the clock. Johnson said driver fatigue is also a concern as snow plow operators work 15-hour shifts.

Officials all along the Wasatch Front delivered similar pleas for patience in the wake of the latest storm, asking residents to remove cars from roadways, shovel sidewalks, clear paths to fire hydrants and mailboxes and drive carefully.

Because of deteriorating road conditions, Gov. Mike Leavitt excused all nonessential state workers at 2 p.m. Friday. The Uni-ver-sity of Utah closed at 1 p.m. and canceled Division of Continuing Education classes but said Saturday classes would be held. Salt Lake Community College shut down at noon and announced there would be no classes Saturday. Salt Lake City called back all of its garbage trucks Friday and canceled trash pick up until routes could be cleared.

County officials said their trash collection will operate on a normal schedule unless the situation worsens.

Also, Salt Lake officials said they intend to get tough with property owners who don't clear their sidewalks within 24 hours of storms, as required by ordinance. Saying they've had more than 100 complaints about snow-packed sidewalks, the officials said citations will be issued if necessary.

A Salt Lake public works spokesman explained that parking enforcement officers will respond to complaints and seek compliance before issuing citations. Fines range from $50 to $100. Property owners who can't remove snow because of age, disability or illness will be be granted additional time, the spokesman said.

The county, meanwhile, is coordinating a volunteer effort to assist in residential snow removal. "It's time for that neighbor-to-neighbor volunteer spirit that this valley is well known for," Horiuchi said in announcing the program.

He encouraged civic and religious groups, Scout troops, corporations and any other interested party to offer their services through the county's outreach program hotline, 468-2480.

"What we are concerned about is making certain the elderly and others can get to mailboxes, have fire hydrants cleared, driveways accessed, help with going to the grocery store, pharmacy or doctor appointments," Horiuchi said. "This weekend, organize your neighborhood and help those who need help."

Officials in the cities and county warned residents that cars will be towed away if they are left in roadways and impede snow removal. Kano said efforts will be made to contact the owners first, "but some of these cars have 3 feet of snow on them and have obviously been abandoned all winter."

West Valley Fire Chief Gerald Maughan asked residents and business owners to help uncover fire hydrants in that community, saying that as the snow gets deeper, the hydrants are becoming increasingly difficult to find.

Firefighters know the approximate location of hydrants, but if they are covered with snow at a fire scene, precious time can be lost while the area is cleared, he said.

Another problem facing communities is a diminishing supply of salt. So far this winter, Salt Lake County has used 15,904 tons of salt on its 870 miles of roads. The cost of snow removal for the county has reached a record $769,876. Johnson said $281,278 of that amount was spent just in the past week.

While expressing concern about the cost, Horiuchi vowed that budget considerations won't hamper snow removal. "We'll do the job, no matter what it costs."

Kano said crews will begin removing accumulated snow from problem areas to central collection points. As that happens, he said, parents should beware of the dangers and discourage children from playing on the mounds or making snow caves.

"It is getting to be a dangerous situation out there," Kano said.