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Snowfall blanketed much of northern Utah on Wednesday, slowing traffic and triggering a slew of crashes and slideoffs on the region's icy freeway system.
The National Weather Service said that was merely a foretaste of what is to come with more and heavier snow on the way. Forecasters said Wednesday's nightmare in white for motorists could see even more alarming encores on Thursday, when the second of three pulses of winter storms of increasing vitality is expected; the third will hit this weekend.
By the end of Wednesday morning's white-knuckle commute, the slippery conditions had triggered more than 100 non-serious injury crashes and slideoffs on northern Utah freeways, and commuters especially those driving into the valleys from mountain passes found their trips painfully prolonged, according to the Utah Department of Transportation.
"Interstate 15 in Utah County became our hot spot for crashes with the steady snow falling on the existing ice," said Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Todd Royce.
Between 6 a.m. and noon, UHP troopers worked 59 crashes and slideoffs in Salt Lake County and another 30 in Utah County, with a few more accidents reported in Weber and Davis counties.
"It [was] a challenge for us to get troopers out to all the crashes, it was been so busy out there," Royce said.
Another bout of snow fell through the afternoon, bringing snow totals to 2.5 to 3 inches throughout most of the northern Wasatch Front, according to NWS. Centerville and Ogden received 3.5 inches. In the mountains, the biggest dump was in Alta, which got 11 inches of powder in some spots, with 5 to 7 inches on most of the mountain and at other Salt Lake County ski resorts. The Canyons got about 3 inches, and 4 inches fell at Snowbasin.
High temperatures along the northern Wasatch Range were predicted to range into the mid-30s on Thursday. Overnight lows were to be in the mid-20s.
The second storm system, expected to arrive early Thursday, was to be stronger. Up to 4 inches of snow in the valleys and 6 inches in the mountains were to fall, with 10-20 mph winds adding to the icy havoc by Thursday night. That storm was forecast to hit the Interstate 15 corridor especially hard.
Southern Utahns were sitting out the latest wintry weather, expecting highs in the mid-50s and overnight lows around 30 degrees. While cloudy skies were on the horizon, no appreciable snowfall was in sight.
The Utah Avalanche Center began Wednesday with "moderate" risk ratings for potentially deadly snowslides for all the state's mountains, but warned the danger would rise to "considerable" for all districts on Thursday.
The storms continued to reduce valley pollution levels, though, with the Utah Division of Air Quality predicting "green," or healthy grades for all air monitoring stations by Thursday morning.
Twitter: @remims Road Weather Highlights through 7 P.M. Wednesday •
I-80 over Parley's Summit will see periods of light road snow/slush between 6 A.M. and 4 P.M. Wednesday.
Valley Routes between Salt Lake and Idaho will see periods of light road snow/slush between the following times:
Cache Valley 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday
I-15 from Brigham City to Idaho 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday
I-15 from Brigham City to Bountiful 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday
I-15 from Bountiful through Salt Lake 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday
Utah Department of Transportation