Southern Utah residents dig out of abnormal snowstorm

Posted at 10:20 PM, Dec 09, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-10 00:20:33-05

ST. GEORGE -- Residents in St. George are digging out of a weekend storm that dropped close to 10 inches of snow in some areas of the Southern Utah town.

The winter storm took many in the city by surprise and homeowners were not prepared for the amount of snow that fell. Typically when it snows in St. George, it’s gone in about a day. Long-time resident Mona Alldredge said she’s only seen this much snow twice in her 40 years living in St. George.

“It’s beautiful, but don’t know,” Alldredge said. “I didn’t even dare drive my car out.“

Like many homeowners, Alldredge has gotten creative with snow removal. She’s used everything from brooms to dustpans, even storage bin lids.

Getting creative is something the city had to do as well. They only own one snowplow, a permanent fixture at the St. George regional airport.

“Is really the lack of snow equipment, because something like this is a very rare occurrence,” said St. George City assistant city manager Marc Mortensen.

City officials have heard several complaints from residents about the city not being prepared for the storm -- but Mortensen said snow removal equipment would be an improper use of funds, considering the rarity of an extreme snowstorm.

Monday St. George City used graders and other construction trucks as make-shift plows.  But on Saturday officials watched the storm intensify with little recourse, police had no alternative but to close roads until The Utah Department of Transportation and the county could help.

“All resources were being used from Cedar City to Las Vegas,” Mortensen said. “Even Vegas saw snowfall.”

Snowfall farther south was felt by close to 300 motorists who got stuck in the Virgin River Gorge Saturday night.

During the brunt of the storm, several slideoffs caused stand-still traffic and motorists had to spend the night. Among them was the Desert Hills High School track team.  The team was on their way home from a meet in California.

Junior Kale Sharp said it was frustrating to be stuck so close to home, but they pulled together with other motorist to make it through.

“We actually took some of our blankets to other cars,” Sharp said. “There was a mother who had a child and then a newborn, I think they were coming up from Arizona, so it was really good to help them out.”

Those colder temperatures are expected to stick around at least the rest of the week. Law enforcement is reminding drivers that roads are still slick as water re-freezes at night and precaution should be taken, especially on hills.