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Massive snowstorm buries northern Utah

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Lisa Getson
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The new year began with jaw-dropping amounts of snow in northern Utah. The scene in Park City's Trailside neighborhood was more peaceful than what motorists experienced on local roads Sunday.

Some parts of Park City received two feet of snow between Saturday and Sunday. More is on the way.

People who didn't have far to go - and already had lift tickets - may have had the time of their lives in Sunday's deep powder. But plow drivers, emergency services workers and power line repair crews had their hands full responding to one of the biggest and wettest snowstorms in recent memory.

The Wasatch Back was blanketed in deep, heavy wet snow Sunday morning. Park City and surrounding areas had received between 10" and 20" of snow overnight Saturday, with some areas reporting two feet. The snow kept falling throughout Sunday, resulting in snarled traffic, a couple of closed streets and traction requirements for cars traveling in some areas.

Officials pleaded with residents to stay home so plows could try to keep up. Marsac Ave closed between the gates near The Montage midday Sunday. I 80 remained clear and fairly empty as dangerous conditions may have kept some travelers away.

But many people had places to go, and tried to get there. Surface streets in Park City proper experienced serious traffic headed to resorts. Deer Valley and Park City Mountain both reported being sold out of day passes, and parking had filled at both resorts by mid-morning.

Park City Mountain also reported a late opening for multiple lifts as employees worked to stabilize terrain and mitigate avalanche danger.

At Deer Valley, the Lady Morgan lift didn't open until afternoon; routine control work there triggered two small slides, which then had to be removed.

Summit and Wasatch County emergency dispatchers said they hadn't handled any major accidents as of Sunday afternoon, but that travel was treacherous and inadvisable.

Summit Park resident Tim Ahfeldt said roads in his neighborhood were generally passable with the proper vehicles and tires. But he is taking care of a friend's pets who lives higher up and he said that plows had created a Game of Thrones-like ice wall in front of that driveway, and behind it, snow on the roof had slid down the sides of the house and buried it. He called it an intense situation and said he'd never seen anything like it.

Farther afield, a guest at Sundance Mountain Resort reported being snowed in. They said the area was without power and no one could get in or out, no plows had been able to access the area and people were working on stabilizing trees and branches to prevent damage to cars there.

Alta and Snowbird did not open at all Sunday due to extreme avalanche danger. Those resorts reported that it was not clear whether they'd open Monday.

Along the Wasatch Front Rocky Mountain Power reported that more than 11,000 people were without power Sunday afternoon due to widespread damage to power poles and lines from the storm.

The company said more outages were expected to occur and urged people to keep devices charged, keep freezers and refrigerators closed, make sure pets are safe. They reminded everyone to stay away from any downed lines, which can pose electrocution danger.

As abundant as the storm was in the Park city area, other parts of the Wasatch had even more dramatic stories to tell. The Provo Mountains received 42" overnight Saturday into Sunday. Avalanche danger was extreme there Sunday into Monday, according to the Utah Avalanche Center.

Meteorologists reported that snow was expected to continue through Sunday night before tapering off Monday morning. Heber City was forecasted to receive 2"-4" Sunday with another 2" possible overnight. Park City was forecasted to get 3"-5" Sunday and an additional 1"-3" overnight.

Michelle, who joined KPCW in 2021, arrived in Utah in 2018 by way of Massachusetts, where the skiing was icy and the mosquitoes formidable. A former daily newspaper reporter and editor (at the Visalia Times-Delta in CA) and columnist (at The Cohasset Mariner in MA), Michelle has been a writer and editor for decades. She holds a journalism degree from CSU Fresno and has worked as a journalist, freelance writer and web content creator, reporting extensively on education and youth along with general assignment and breaking news.