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Christmas storm brings much-needed moisture to Utah

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Posted at 3:31 PM, Dec 26, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-26 19:04:41-05

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah had its white Christmas, with several inches of snow accumulating during the day. While the storm caused some headaches on the roads, it brought some much-needed moisture to the state.

Between midnight Thursday and 6 a.m. Friday, there were 63 crashes in Salt Lake County, 11 of those with minor injuries; in Utah County, 5 people had minor injuries in 61 wrecks; in Davis County, there were just 16 crashes. Troopers say that number would have been much higher had the storm come on a normal commuting day.

There is an elevated avalanche warning in effect for higher elevations, but mostly good news coming from the storm. The ski resorts got a few inches of snow, and that means we'll see higher water levels come spring.

"We were in need of snow and we got high water content earlier in the month and this a good snow for the ski industry," said Michael Conger, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service.

This is the second major storm of the month, and while we saw more snow in the valleys, Conger says this one wasn't as strong as the system we saw earlier this month.

"Not quite as much snow but it still was a good 10-12 inches in the canyon and a few spots had close to two feet," Conger said.

Mountains in central and southern Utah also saw up to two feet of snow. Avalanche forecaster with the Utah Avalanche Center Brett Kobernik says the current threat isn't high below 9,500 feet. Some naturally-triggered slides were recorded on Thursday, and human-caused avalanches are still likely in the high country on Friday.

"It was low density, didn't add that much water weight. So the new snow itself was not very unstable. It didn't really increase the danger all that much," Kobernik said. "We're talking about terrain above 9,500 feet and that's going to be mostly on slopes that face northwest, north, northeast and east. That's where the danger is most pronounced."

Experts advise back country enthusiasts to check the Utah Avalanche Center's daily advisories before heading out.