SOUTHERN UTAH — As snow began falling in Southern Utah along Interstate 15 Sunday, the Utah Highway Patrol was dispatched to two injury crashes, 24 property damage crashes and 46 slide-offs in a 24-hour span.
From noon Sunday through noon Monday, UHP troopers in Washington County handled one injury crash, one property damage crash and six slide-offs, while UHP in Iron County handled one injury crash, 23 property damage crashes and 40 slide-offs, UHP Sgt. Jake Hicks said Monday afternoon.
Additionally, around 9:30 a.m. Monday, approximately 20 semitractor-trailers that had pulled over at a rest area just north of New Harmony became stuck in a jam, Hicks said, after several of the semis were without snow chains and couldn’t get going again.
“The semitrucks pulled into the rest area to take a break from the weather — a lot of them pulled in there — and the snow kept falling,” Hicks said. “The plows aren’t able to keep up with that, especially when the parking lot is filled with semitrucks, snow plows have a hard time getting in there, so when the semitrucks started to go, the lead one got stuck.”
With the help of Utah Department of Transportation crews, who subsequently responded to the scene and put sand on the roadway, the semis were eventually able to get enough traction to get them moving again.
“For a time there, it was quite the jam-up of semitrucks,” Hicks said, “It only takes one or two semitrucks to get stuck and it can really, really back traffic up.”
Currently, Hicks said Washington County road conditions are looking good. However, the same couldn’t be said for Beaver and Iron counties.
“Where we’re seeing most troubles are up in Iron County and Beaver County — basically, the further north you go where it gets colder,” he said. “The last report I got from dispatch over the last two hours is Beaver County’s getting hit pretty hard with the weather and people are sliding off and crashing and things like that. That’s mostly where the trouble is right now.”
Hicks encourages motorists who are able to avoid traveling north to do so for the time being.
“The storm is supposed to pass tonight from what I’ve heard in the reports,” he said, “and tomorrow should be back to normal. As far as I’m aware, it should start tapering off tonight.”
Hicks is also cautioning motorists to watch their speed.
“Semitrucks (and) large vehicles drop a lot of ice, large chunks of ice and snow onto the roadway,” he said, “so it can appear only to be wet, but it can also be icy. Also, those large chunks of ice can cause problems when people try to avoid them.”
While the speed limit is 80 mph along most of I-15, Hicks said he would advise against motorists traveling 80 mph until the icy road conditions have cleared. He recommends a maximum speed of 65 mph in the current conditions.
This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement and may not contain the full scope of findings.
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