Wirth Watching - The mega snowstorm of 1993 that buried parts of Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (Good 4 Utah) - As we have had a light snow fell over parts of Northern Utah, today, it’s nothing like people remember 22 years ago. Today marks the end of the record setting January snowstorm of 1993. In five days from January 6th to the 11th – 1850 cars were pulled out of Utah ditches. The National Guard was called in to help shovel, plow and haul snow. Meanwhile, rescue workers helped people out of collapsed homes.

Like any good horror story, the snowstorm started one dark and stormy night. The nightmare continued as a foggy day. Troopers knew were in for it. Semi-trucks were jackknifed, cars were tires up, one was even in a tree, and another in a shed. Most Drivers seemed to just park in snow banks, except for one who drove into the Great Salt Lake.

Then the fog rolled in again, and dozens of cars became one mess of metal on I-84.

Cars collided in a chain reaction there were close to 30 vehicles involved.

Out at the airport they got the first of 23 inches that would fall over five days. Over 50 inches fell in the whole month. At least some planes got away.

Now by the third day the fun was wearing off. People started looking for their sidewalks, mailboxes and fire hydrants. Everyone and their dog were on edge.

UHP Troopers were no longer amused at working around the clock.

At one point there were 4 Troopers who were injured and 17 Patrol Cars that were damaged. It was not Utah’s best example of good driving. Troopers stressed, “ People are just driving too fast. They think, it’s a freeway, so go 55. Maybe a good safe speed would be 10 miles per hour.”

Half way through the 5 day storm, Governor Leavitt said it was just a royal mess out there and he told people to go home. The Governor said as he declared a State of Emergency, “This morning it snowed again, and at 8:15 we authorized the closure of the State Government for the balance of the day.”

And then guess what? There was even more and more snow. The word Emergency was used a lot. The city and county were in trouble fighting the mess. 8 million dollars was spent on snow removal. Workers were putting in 16 hour shifts to keep the roads open.  Supplies of salt and sand were maxed out. It had gotten so bad, equipment began to breakdown.

At this point people, plows, and cars were all running out of room. The walls of snow were coming in on the city.  The National Guard got the call and came in. Yes, this was war.  The troops invaded downtown against the enemy. The plan was to plow the enemy over and to cart it away somewhere. We never really did know what city got Salt Lake’s snow in the middle of the night.   

Among all this there was another problem and the troops began spreading out to the neighborhoods.  Roofs, carports and entire homes were collapsing from the snow.  This made people all over town get out their roofs to remove snow. And they were using the darnest devices.  We witnessed one family that put  the ol’ snow blower up on the roof. Just know that really isn't a recommended use.  For what goes up usually comes down. Especially on ice and snow on a pitched roof.

Finally on January 11th the snow that would never end, ended.  That five day record for most snow in the city from one big storm has never been broken.  

As Utah approached the 2000 millennium, the National Weather Service called it one of the 10 most significant weather events of the century. 


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