Old Man Winter is leaving his chilly signature across the country as cold, snow and ice are being blamed for at least 13 deaths and general havoc across a wide area of the United States.
A Delta jet slid off the taxiway at the Salt Lake International Airport on Tuesday morning. Hundreds of flights were canceled in Dallas, and almost 70,000 people were without power when a winter storm ripped through Texas, leaving 10 people dead.The ice storm closed schools, roads and businesses from California to Louisiana. Utahns were busy cleaning up messes made by broken pipes, downed trees and heavy snow.
The snow and high winds of the weekend are being blamed for the deaths of three experienced back-country campers found late Monday after apparently being buried in an avalanche near the Dry Canyon Drainage in Cache County.
Search and rescue teams found the bodies of Max Lyon, 38, and Karl Mueggler, 29, both of Logan, and Keith Maas, 36, Nebraska.
The trio had reportedly been camping in the Little Big Mountain area since Saturday and had planned on returning Monday. Family members called police Monday evening when the group did not return home.
Authorities believe the men were likely waiting out the weekend blizzard conditions in their tent when the avalanche occurred.
All three were reported to be experienced back-country campers and were well-equipped.
One of the men was wearing an electronic emergency locating device thathelped rescue workers locate the tent buried under 4 to 6 feet of snow, said Cache County Sheriff's Capt. Robert DeGasser.
"Indications are that this was a tragic, unavoidable winter accident which even experienced winter outdoorsmen could not have anticipated," said DeGasser. It's believed the men died from trauma and suffocation.
Snow continued to fall Tuesday morning along the Wasatch Front, bogging down the commute and causing slick conditions that sent an airplane sliding off the runway at Salt Lake International Airport.
A Delta jet concluding Flight 1144 from Kansas City skidded off a slippery taxiway about 8:30 a.m. shortly after landing.
None of the 44 passengers or five crew members was injured, although all had to be bused from the taxiway to the terminal. Flight delays or cancellations were also expected, said airport spokeswoman Barbara Gann.
Morning fog and snow forced the closure of one of the airport's runways.
Fort Douglas Armed Reserve Center remained closed for a second day Tuesday after losing power that led to flooding in several of the building's basements, said Tony Cox, command executive officer.
The storm also prompted closing all the schools in the Washington County School District in St. George. Salt Lake City's East High reopened Tuesday after students were sent home early Monday because of a blown transformer and frozen pipes.
Floods also closed a number of businesses in the Sugar House area.
American Fork Canyon remained closed Tuesday but Parley's Canyon was open to all traffic after weekend restrictions.
Blanding and Cedar City each received 7 inches of snow in a 24-hour period ending Tuesday morning. Eight inches of snow were dumped on Hanksville.
Normally a scene of Bermuda shorts and golf carts, St. George was instead suffered with fender-benders and snow shovels as the storm slammed southern Utah. The 3 inches of snow in St. George almost matched the 4 inches Alta received in a 24-hour period - all coming just days after about 4,000 skiers were stranded up Little Cottonwood Canyon overnight by heavy snows and avalanche dangers.
Nationally, this is becoming a winter to remember.
American Airlines canceled 600 out of 1,560 flights at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport Monday and expected to cancel about 40 percent of its flights Tuesday.
Heavy snow forced Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff to cancel classes Monday and Tuesday for the first time in about 20 years.
Meanwhile, much of Utah stayed indoors Monday night as an overnight winter storm warning was in place for most of southern Utah, the Wasatch mountains north of I-80 and the western Uinta Mountains and valleys, including Park City.
Power was restored to most East Bench customers who were without electricity by late Monday night, as utility crews worked 12-hour shifts to repair lines.
Utah Power spokesman Dave Es-kel-sen said lines above some homes needed fixing, while some temporary repairs were required after "limbs or whole trees blew the lines over."
Meantime, on the east side of Salt Lake City, children at the Veteran's Administration Medical Center child care were forced to relocate Monday when water pipes to a steam heater broke and drenched the facility on two floors.
About a half-dozen buildings at the VA medical center flooded from frozen pipes and overhead sprinkler systems, according to human resource personnel.
Similar conditions were found at the University of Utah's Joseph Merrill Engineering Building when a sprinkler system froze about 4 a.m. Sunday and pipes burst, flooding the third floor. The water eventually seeped to the main lobby one floor below.
University of Utah spokesman Larry Weist said the broken water line caused an estimated $100,000 damage to the structure and $100,000 to research equipment.
"Some of the guys in security were saying the flooding was so bad it was like a waterfall coming down the stairs," said University of Utah Police dispatcher Robin John-son.
The cost of replacing the collapsed plastic bubble over the university's athletic practice field that was ripped by high winds Sunday has not been determined.
Frozen pipes split and flooded two stores at a Sugar House strip mall, causing extensive damage Monday. At Michael's Arts and Crafts, 2236 S. 1300 East, the main pipeline for a heater broke, said Tim Paxton, a sales supervisor. Paxton said the damage was estimated at $300,000 and the store hoped to reopen Thursday. Next door at Party America, the flooding also left significant damage and owners were forced to get rid of the water with pumps.