Winter came in like a lion in Box Elder County last week, just ahead of Thanksgiving when many people were traveling to celebrate the holiday.
The first big winter storm of the season hit on Wednesday, Nov. 27, dumping more than a foot of snow in some areas and snarling traffic on local freeways and other major travel routes.
The storm happened to coincide with the busiest part of the Thanksgiving commute, resulting in an unusually high number of crashes and slide-offs along I-15, I-84 and elsewhere in the county. One traffic fatality happened near Willard.
A Utah Highway Patrol spokesman said snow was affecting roads all over northern Utah, and the worst road conditions were in Box Elder and Cache counties. In some areas, there was more snow than plows could handle for a while.
“Box Elder County is currently inundated with snow and the roads are exceptionally treacherous. Please allow road crews and law enforcement a few hours to make things safe before heading out for the day,” a tweet from UHP read.
According to the Utah Highway Patrol, troopers had responded to more than 130 crashes and slide-offs in Box Elder County alone as of late Wednesday evening.
There was one fatality near Willard, after a passenger car slid off of I-15 and ran into a utility pole. The crash happened at about noon Wednesday at milepost 358. The driver died instantly, and a passenger was transported to a local hospital with minor injuries and released later that night.
UHP Lt. Lee Perry urged drivers to have their vehicles in good working order, especially to make sure they are driving on tires with adequate traction. He said travelers should pay attention to message boards at the mouth of Sardine Canyon and other canyons, which have experienced closures in recent days and weeks due to the winter weather.
There were also widespread power outages in Box Elder County as a result of the storm. According to Rocky Mountain Power, more than 2,000 residences were without power for several hours on Wednesday night after a transformer blew in the Tremonton area. Power was restored around 1 a.m. on Thanksgiving day. Most of the outages were in Tremonton and surrounding communities, although there were some in the Willard area as well.
Tremonton City used the storm as a reminder that winter parking hours in the city were set to begin. As of Dec. 1, no vehicle, trailer, or object can be parked on the street in Tremonton between the hours of 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. Also, vehicles must be removed from the street while there is active snow removal going on.