ST. GEORGE, Utah — A storm dropped heavy snow along the Utah-Arizona
border, stranding hundreds of Interstate 15 travelers much of the night and
shutting down the airport and public bus system in St. George.
The Arizona Highway Patrol says about 300 vehicles were stranded on I-15
through the Virgin River Gorge after up to 10 inches of snow and slick road
conditions prompted the section’s closure Saturday night.
The Spectrum of St. George reports emergency crews
worked through the night to bring food and blankets to stranded motorists, and
the section of the interstate between St. George and Mesquite, Nev., was
reopened around noon Sunday.
AHP spokesman Bart Graves said numerous accidents and medical issues were
reported, but there no immediate reports of serious injuries.
Darrell Cashin, spokesman for the Washington County sheriff’s search and rescue
team, compared the ice-covered roadways to an ice-skating rink.
“Even semi-trucks with chains on them were sliding around,” he told The
Nearby St. George received 6 inches of snow, helping to make it one of the
snowiest Decembers there in more than a century, according to the National
Weather service forecaster Christine Kruse said St. George has seen an inch or
more of snow during December only 19 times since record keeping began there 115
years ago. With two such snowfalls in the past week, that makes it the city’s
third highest frequency of inch-plus accumulations in over a century.
The snow prompted the closure of St. George Municipal Airport and St. George’s
SunTran bus system on Saturday night, and the postponement of Dixie State
University’s annual Christmas concert. The airport reopened on Sunday morning.
Zion National Park in southern Utah received 8.5 inches of snow, its fourth
highest 24-hour snow total since record keeping began in 1904, according to the
Snow fell across much of Utah and prompted requirements for motorists to
install chains on tires or ride with snow tires on highways.
As of early Saturday night, there were over 150 property-damage crashes in
Utah, Davis and Weber counties, as well as in southern Utah, the Deseret News
reported. Fourteen wrecks caused injuries.
“The most severe was a broken knee,” Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Lawrence
Information from: The Spectrum