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Drivers urged to use caution and be prepared as fast-moving snowstorm moves through Utah

Big and Little Cottonwood canyons expected to receive significant snowfall
Road conditions hampered by rain, snow
Posted at 5:42 AM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 14:05:47-05

SALT LAKE CITY — The National Weather Service reports a fast-moving storm is making its way through Utah Friday and Saturday, bringing significant snowfall to higher elevations and making travel difficult along mountain roadways.

The greatest snow totals are expected in the upper areas of Big and Little Cottonwood canyons and the Wasatch Plateau. Unified Police are asking drivers to be prepared with four-wheel drive, snow tires, tire chains or other traction devices. Click here for details on Utah's "Traction Law" and driver safety information regarding winter travel in the Cottonwood canyons.

"Make sure you have snow tires on your car, you have to have snow tires per law.You also have to have either four-wheel drive or chains in your car and you have to have them on your car before you head up the canyon if the lights are flashing with restriction enforcement," said Sgt. James Blanton, UPD Canyon Patrol. “We don’t want to have to cite people, we want to educate people and we want to do that prior to them getting in the canyons so they don’t cause a traffic jam or a hazard.”

Drivers should also be prepared for long waits in the canyons. On rare occasions, a canyon can be closed to traffic for several hours, leaving drivers stuck in their cars.

This was the case in Big Cottonwood Canyon on Sunday, when a collision between two vehicles at an S-curve prompted an emergency response that created a massive traffic backup.

Winter weather advisories have been issued for Beaver, Box Elder, Carbon, Duchesne, Emery and Juab counties. Most of the advisories will take effect at noon Friday and will last through 9 a.m. Saturday.

Click here to check for advisories, watches and warnings in your area.

Snow accumulations of six to 12 inches are expected at elevations above 5,000 feet in the Wasatch Mountains, Western Uinta Mountains, the Wasatch Plateau / Book Cliffs area and Utah's Central Mountains.

"Another round of snow is expected Friday across much of the area above 5000 feet, with a mixture of rain and snow across lower elevations initially. A change to snow is expected Friday night which could bring minor accumulations to the lower valleys of northern and central Utah. More significant accumulations are expected across the higher terrain, and winter driving conditions can be expected across all mountain routes," a hazardous weather outlook statement from NWS says.

The greatest snow totals are expected in the upper Cottonwood canyons and the Wasatch Plateau.

The Utah Department of Transportation reports roadways in the valleys and benches along the Wasatch Front could see "intensity driven road slush" later Friday night through Saturday morning, and road slush may also occur in the Cedar City area late Friday afternoon through Friday night.

Drivers are urged to use extra caution, leave themselves plenty of time to reach their destinations, increase following distance and observe any traction requirements that may take effect.

Watch FOX 13 News for updates on the storm.

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