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Weather turns frigid for Utah residents

But residents could get another chance to clear water pipes

Salt Lake Valley residents who were lulled by a long, relatively dry fall into neglecting the annual winter home preparations nearly had a nasty surprise Monday morning.

But they're getting another chance to turn off the outside water and disconnect hoses.

Sunday night, the National Weather Service forecasted temperatures would drop to a pipe-splitting 10 degrees. Fortunately for procrastinators, it wasn't that bad.

"Last night the air was exceptionally cold over the Great Salt Lake," said Len Randolph, KSL Channel 5 meteorologist. "It generated some lake-effect snow flurries."

The snow came with clouds, which covered Salt Lake City like a big warm comforter. The results: "We only dropped to 25. That's 1 degree colder than normal" for the date, said Randolph.

St. George, in Utah's normally toasty Dixie, had clear skies and no wind. With icy air covering the state, the temperature fell and St. George experienced a low of 23 degrees — two degrees colder than Salt Lake City.

Worse, Cedar City's overnight low was 0 and Milford's was -4.

Much of the impact has to do with cloud cover, or the lack of it. When winter night air is still and clear, the ground can radiate warmth dramatically, according to Randolph.

If temperatures drop far enough for an extended period, outside pipes and hoses with water in them can freeze. That can cause pipes to burst in basements or yards.

So far this year, that hasn't happened to many Salt Lake residents.

No calls have come in about burst pipes, said Kelsi Despain of Whipple Plumbing in Salt Lake City.

"We've had a couple of frozen pipes, not many yet," said Troy Neerings, owner of Neerings Plumbing & Heating, Salt Lake City.

The weather hasn't been cold enough for much damage, so the plumbers haven't been out in force yet.

"But in my experience, if it gets in the low teens and stays there, and the wind blows a little bit — watch out," the wind chill factor can cause pipes to freeze fast, Neerings said.


E-mail: bau@desnews.com

The Deseret Morning News and KSL-TV are involved in an ongoing news-gathering partnership.