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Memorial Day weekend forecast: Fire and ice

Memorial Day weekend in northern Utah could involve winter driving conditions at higher elevations.
Memorial Day weekend in northern Utah could involve winter driving conditions at higher elevations.

Spring in the mountains is no joke. If you’ve made plans for a holiday weekend barbecue – or any other outdoor endeavor – you’re going to need your waterproof outerwear in northern Utah. Maybe your snow shoes. And if you’re headed south, you may need an exit route and some fire safety tips.

In the Wasatch Back, the Utah Department of Transportation reports that Guardsman Pass, the Mirror Lake Highway and the Alpine loop are all open. For now. The National Weather Service is warning that snowfall could impact mountain passes.

Forecasted storms could bring 2”-7” of snow all the way down to elevations of 7000 feet. Additional snowfall is forecast for higher elevations, with some areas potentially receiving 8”-12”.

So it’s not out of the realm of possibility that seasonal roads could close. And if they do stay open, travelers may encounter hazardous winter driving conditions. Carrying blankets and extra food and water along with flashlights and flares is recommended if you plan travel at higher elevations this weekend.

For those willing to recreate in inclement weather, Chris Mulder from Basin Rec warns that some trails are not safe right now.

“The mid mountain trail does have very large patches of snow on it and it's actually kind of dangerous to cross it," he said. "So I definitely do not recommend mid Mountain Trail between the alpine lake or red pine Lodge and the top of Rob's trail. It's just if you try to cross it and you slip and fall, you're gonna go for a really scary ride down into some trees and rocks.”

Down south it’s a completely different story – the Weather Service has issued warnings for critical fire weather conditions in the San Rafael Swell and throughout southern Utah. That’s due to gusty winds and low humidity. Forecasters predict gusts above 25 miles per hour around southern Ut today, and up to 40 miles per hour Saturday. Any new or existing fires could spread rapidly.

It'll be hot in southern Utah, too. Today’s high in St George will be 97 and 91 in Arches. The region will see highs in the uppers 80s Saturday, in the 70s Sunday and the 60s Monday.

Wherever you’re headed, stay safe and have fun.