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Park City

Late-May snow causes crashes, threatens plants, delays summer: ‘This is Park City’

Michelle Deininger
Porter tests out the fresh snowfall Monday morning.

The Memorial Day snowstorm and cold snap brought traffic accidents to the Wasatch Back, muddying local trails and requiring local gardeners to find cover for their plants.

Last Memorial Day, it was 85 degrees in Salt Lake City. This year, Utah Highway Patrol troopers responded to a half-dozen accidents within a few miles of Parley’s Summit as drivers grappled with a late season snowstorm.

In Park City, Main Street retailers were polishing their displays around 9:15 a.m. Monday, but potential customers were few and far between. For Linda Lawrence, a manager at Park City Nursery on S.R. 224, part of the job is protecting plants from the sudden winter resurgence.

“It's definitely a lot of work, but this is normal," Lawrence said. "This is Park City.”

Lawrence, who said she's been here for 20 years, recommended bringing plants inside that might suffer from the cold and covering others with frost cloth — though she cautioned growers not to let the cloth touch the plants. She said garden staffers have been covering their plants for most of the month.

“For our annuals, if it's going to be below 40-ish, like somewhere in that 37-degree range, we cover," she said. "And then all of the perennials, which will not die, if they have buds or they’re flowering, we recommend that people cover those because the cold won't kill them, but it will ruin the buds and the flower.”

The Salt Lake office of the National Weather Service predicted that a slow-moving storm would remain in the area through Tuesday, bringing an estimated additional 5-11 inches of snow to Alta and 3-8 inches to the Western Uinta Mountains.

For Scott Dudevoir, a manager at Cole Sport, the snowstorm came as his shop and most others had already transitioned to the summer season. He said people are still renting bikes when the weather is good, but summer business doesn’t usually pick up until June or so.

He said some of his friends were thinking about going for a ski tour in Little Cottonwood Canyon and responded with a laugh when asked what he thought when he saw the snow flying.

“That it's Park City and this can happen at any time," Dudevoir said. "You know, I mean, we need the moisture, so snow is a better form of moisture for the reservoirs. So, that's a good thing. But yeah, I mean, I think every shop in town is geared up for summer at this point. So, it's not great for business, but it's necessary for the reservoirs.”

Lora Smith, executive director of the Mountain Trails Foundation, said the trails probably would be too wet for riding as the storm passes through.

“Wet ground, turn around,” she said.

Utah Highway Patrol Cpl. Mikki Vargas said that by 10 a.m. Monday, there had been six accidents on Interstate 80 between Lambs Canyon and Jeremy Ranch, though no injuries had been reported.

The National Weather Service predicts the high temperature this Friday will be 75 degrees.