BOX ELDER COUNTY - By Ellen Cook, Headliner Media Specialist, February 1, 2023
Box Elder County was hit hard by Mother Nature this past weekend, especially the northern end. Heavy snowfall, strong winds and bitter cold conditions made it difficult to get from Point A to Point B, no matter what type of vehicle was making the trip.
As the snow accumulated, so did the number of accidents. The whiteout conditions on I-84 Saturday night, compounded by slick roads resulted in multiple vehicles off in a single location. Icy roads and poor visibility caused even more on the south end of I-15. According to Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Bryce Kohler, his troopers responded to 50 minor crashes from Friday, January 27, through Monday, January 30. During that same timeframe, UHP helped with another 45 slide-offs, and assisted 19 motorists who were stranded because of the weather. Even with all the recorded incidents, only eight calls were to crashes with reportable injuries.
“Troopers logged over 250 regular man hours with over 75 hours in overtime,” Kohler said. At some points during the storms, the calls got so high, assistance was needed from both Weber and Cache counties. Add to that the trips made by First Responders and ambulance crews and those numbers climb even higher.
And while the snow totals were impressive, 10 to 12 inches in some areas, even more impressive was the personnel who were out trying to clear roadway and bust up snowdrifts caused by the wind.
Tremonton City Mayor Lyle Holmgren posted on Facebook Sunday that city crews had been out most of the night and would be back during the day to push again.
Gordy Young, Box Elder County Operations Supervisor, said his entire crew were out during the three heavy storm days, some of them putting in 14-hour days.
He said further out west, near Yost and Grouse Creek, the manhours were even higher, due to limited workers.
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“Some of the guys put in 135 hours in a two-week period,” he said. “If they hadn’t, that end of the county would have been stopped in their tracks. My guys were breaking up snow drifts eight feet deep so ranchers could get to their cattle and sheep.”
Closer into the Bear River Valley, Young said the snowplows were running all night Friday until early the next morning. “They then all came in on Sunday night at 11 p.m. and worked until 11 p.m. the next night. I feel everyone worked really hard to supply a service to the public so they could get to work and to school.”
Drifting snow was the biggest villain in the blizzard battle as the infamous Valley winds kept piling up what was falling down. Young said there were areas along SR 30 from Elwood south that had to be hit by snowplow drivers every half hour just to keep them passable.
Video courtesy of Arik Beesley, Utah Highway Patrol - I-84 during whiteout conditions.