As yet another storm is poised to roll through Utah Wednesday into Friday, the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City says motorists traveling in mountainous areas should carry chains with them at all times, be prepared with an emergency kit and keep a distance behind snowplows while they clear roadways.
This storm could deliver up to 4 inches of snow on valley floors in northern Utah, central Utah and southwest Wyoming, with the heaviest snow falling Thursday night in the Salt Lake City area.
At elevations between 5,000 and 7,000 feet, up to 9 inches of snow could fall while elevations above that are forecast to get as much as 2 feet.
The onslaught of snow means it is especially important to allow extra distance between vehicles because of the potential of reduced visibility. Due to the snowy conditions, residents should check on family and the elderly, the agency advised.
While sidewalks and driveways should be cleared of snow, weather officials said shovelers should keep well hydrated, take frequent breaks and avoid overexertion.
Studies show that about 11,500 people are treated in U.S. emergency rooms each year and there are 100 deaths due to snow shoveling.
Intermountain Healthcare, in a post earlier this year, noted the repetitive bending, lifting and digging puts extra strain and stress on the body. Medical experts there advise that before shoveling, make sure to stretch and if it’s too strenuous, consider hiring someone else to remove your snow.
The Utah Avalanche Center is also warning of “considerable” risk of avalanche activity in the mountains from Logan down south of Provo. It says that human-triggered avalanches are likely under these conditions and are likely unsurvivable. Most avalanche accidents and fatalities occur at this level of hazard.
The repeated series of storms so far this year are helping to alleviate some angst among water watchers, although it is still early in the season and Utah needs an active storm pattern to continue for the next few months.
As it sits now, most of Utah’s basins are sitting above normal or near normal for snowpack accumulation — good news coming off a wicked drought over the summer.
Plentiful snowpack is the most critical cog, some Utah government officials have said, in Utah’s path to continued growth and a thriving economy.
The state gets 95% of its water from snow that falls in the mountains, melts into streams and rivers, and empties into reservoirs.
Forecasters are calling for a brief lull in storm activity New Year’s Day and a couple days afterward, but more storms are lined up for Utah after that.