SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A rare freezing rain caused major havoc in Salt Lake City Thursday, creating sheets of ice on roads, sidewalks and airport runways.
The Salt Lake City International Airport was closed for about three hours, delaying hundreds of passengers. The closure came after a Frontier Airlines plane landing from Denver slid on a patch of ice while on the runway. Nobody was injured.
Morning commutes were brought to a crawl by the icy conditions, which caused dozens of accidents that closed lanes. Utah Highway Patrol called in off-duty officers to deal with all the accidents.
In downtown Salt Lake City and at the University of Utah, people walked gingerly to avoid falling on the ice. At the university library, frozen pipe burst led to a temporarily evacuation.
Freezing rain is uncommon in Salt Lake City. Thursday marked just the 10th time there’s been measurable frozen rain at the airport since 1940, said Monica Traphagan, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Salt Lake City.
The amount of freezing rain at the airport is the most since Dec. 31, 1983, Traphagan said. The effect is caused by precipitation that begins as rain in the warmer upper atmosphere but freezes when it hits the valley floor that is below freezing, she said. The inversion effect _ which causes the Salt Lake City metro area to have some of the country’s unhealthiest air during the winter _ keeps cold air trapped in the valley.
The forecast doesn’t call for any more problematic freezing rain in the coming days, Traphagan said _ just regular rain and snow.
At the Salt Lake City International Airport _ a hub for Delta Air Lines _ numerous flights were cancelled and many others delayed though exact figures were unavailable.
The first of three runways was reopened at about 12:45 p.m. and the other two were opened in the mid-afternoon and early evening, airport spokeswoman Barbara Gann said. Delays were still expected through the night.
The Frontier plane landed safely at about 9:30 a.m. and slid on a patch of ice while turning to the taxiway, Frontier Airlines spokeswoman Kate O’Malley said. None of the 139 passengers on the flight from Denver was injured and the airplane never left the pavement, she said.
It’s unknown how many airlines have been affected. Delta Air Lines and seven other airlines run flights there. The airport is located five miles northwest of downtown Salt Lake City. The airport has two terminals, five concourses and 83 gates.
There were 188 crashes reported in the Salt Lake City metro area Thursday, said Cpt. Todd Johnson of the Utah Highway Patrol. Nine of those were slide-offs.
“That’s an enormous amount of crashes to be investigating,” Johnson said.
Twenty-seven people were hurt _ including three highway troopers _ but none suffered major injuries. The freezing rain conditions are very rare in northern Utah, Johnson said.
“In my 22 years on the road, I can’t remember anything like this,” he said.
At the University of Utah, a frozen pipe burst in the library forcing a 45-minute evacuation, university spokesman Keith Sterling said. The pipe burst in an employee staff area, causing carpet damage. No books were damaged, he said.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.