Most troopers know that winter in Utah mean long hours of endless accidents. Generally, Utah is well prepared to “dig out” following a major storm. Then the storm of the decade hit – from January 6 – 12, 1993. Many roads were closed due to blowing, drifting snow. Provo Canyon and Spanish Fork Canyon were closed due to avalanches and heavy snow. Interstate 84 had numerous accidents including a 27 car pileup. Interstate 84 between Snowville and the Idaho border was closed for two days due to drifting snow and poor visibility. Road crews worked 24 hours a day on Interstate 15 trying to keep the Point-of-the-Mountain open. State Road 92 in Utah County was closed for several days. Large barricades were used to block the road. Several area residents ignored these signs and drove past them. Officers in four-wheel drive vehicles would then have to respond to rescue these stranded motorists.
Many troopers worked double shifts responding to accidents and to stranded motorists. Residents and business owners were warned to shovel excess snow from their roofs. Many roofs collapsed causing extensive damage. Governor Leavitt declared a state of emergency and activated 80 Utah National Guardsmen. During a six day period, troopers investigated one fatal accident, 78 injury accidents, 650 property damage accidents, and responded to more than 1,000 public assists. Also during this week, four troopers were hit by motorists and 17 patrol cars were damaged. One trooper said, “I don’t ever want to go through another week like that one.”
During January 1993, a record 50.3 inches of snow fell at the Salt Lake International Airport. History would repeat itself in January 1996, the second largest snowfall on record. A total of 45.0 inches of snow was recorded at the Salt Lake International Airport during January 1996. Again, troopers with the Utah Highway Patrol responded with dedication and professionalism.