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Lake effect snow wrecks the Monday commute

Utah Highway Patrol Troopers responded to this crash on I-15 in Nephi on Sunday. Statewide, the storm and its lake effect snow produced more than 200 crashes.

SALT LAKE CITY — Lake effect snow from a weekend storm lingered into the early hours of Monday morning, making for a messy commute from Spanish Fork to Tremonton.

KSL Meteorologist Grant Weyman says Tooele especially bore the brunt of the lake effect, as moisture from the Great Salt Lake combined with wind to dump much more snow than was originally forecast.

“Tooele was one of the winners, if you will, for the valleys — over a foot,” Weyman says. “In some cases, they saw more snow than some of the resorts did, at least at one particular time.”

What is the lake effect?

When conditions are right, below-freezing air passes over the warmer waters of a lake, such as the Great Salt Lake, evaporating some of the lake’s water, which then rises and cools as it moves away from the lake. Once cooled, that moisture, sopped up like a sponge, gets wrung out over land — leaving lake effect snow in large amounts on the ground. Wind direction can greatly affect the lake effect — the larger the surface area of the lake is covered by the wind, the more water that air will take in as part of the lake effect.

lake effect snow commute

Side roads continued to be snow packed into the Monday morning commute, with plow drivers working hard to clear them. (Peter Samore, KSL Newsradio)

Suncrest in Draper got 11.5 inches of snow. West Lehi picked up 7 inches. And the Salt Lake City International Airport set a new daily record for December 2nd, with 5.9 inches of snow recorded there.

Snow joke for drivers

lake effect snow storm

A fender bender in Juab County; one of 224 statewide (Utah Highway Patrol)

Over the weekend, Utah Highway Patrol reported more than 200 crashes statewide – about 80 of them in Salt Lake and Utah Counties during the storm. The weather was a contributing factor in most of the accidents.

By Monday morning, the trouble spots tended to be north of Salt Lake City. In Ogden, police responded to a number of slide-offs as the snowmelt refroze and became slick and icy overnight. Davis County commuters reported a slippery drive with some roads still snow packed and slushy at best.

The worst of the commute came between Ogden and Farr West, where snow and ice caused several cars to crash on I-15.

Traffic was sluggish along I-80 and SR-201 east from Tooele County.

Drivers have also lost control on bridges, overpasses, and exit ramps, especially northbound I-15 at 11400 South in Draper, where two semis crashed.

A car hit a telephone pole at 2900 East 4500 South in Holladay.

Fortunately, minor injuries were reported throughout all of this.