|Snow piled in the middle of Price Main Street takes on an eerie glow as the Christmas storm continues to hover above the Carbon County area early last Friday morning. City, county and state road crews reported to work on the holiday to clear the highways and streets for travelers.|
Early last week, Snotel measurements showed that the Cottonwood-Mammoth water shed had a snow pack of 95 percent of normal. Cottonwood-Mammoth provides a significant percentage of Carbon County's water supply.
The measurement was taken, however, before a Christmas Day storm blanketed the mountains and valleys in Castle Country with the largest amount of snow in almost six years. By the time the storm passed through the area, parts of the valley had more than 10 inches of snow.
Since the drought started in 1998, there have only been a few times that a significant amount of snow had stuck on the ground in the valley.
The storm rose up from the south and residents awoke to up to six inches of snow on lawns.
The storm continued all day Christmas with only a few breaks.
By Friday morning, unused parking lots and driveways had filled up with snow. Snow plows, blowers and shovels were out in force.
Utah Department of Transportation, Price city and Carbon County crews worked on Christmas Day to keep roads open. In addition, power outages occurred in various places around the county and for varying lengths of time. In some areas there were just flickers and those small outages happened three or four times in the same areas. In other areas the power was out for up to four hours.
"We've isolated the power outage in one area here but there are some places over there that still don't have power," said one
Utah Power and Light employee who was assisting a worker on a boom truck on Carbonville Road early Friday morning. "We're just trying to get to the problems and fix them as fast as we can."
Luckily for Carbon residents the outages were nothing like what happened along the Wasatch Front this past weekend. Nearly 100,000 people were without power and, Sunday night, UP&L said customers would not have electricity restored until Tuesday.
On Friday, businesses in Carbon County were affected by the storm. Generally, Dec. 26 is one of the biggest shopping days of the year and special closeout sales begin early in the morning. But most local retail outlets were not as busy as expected.
Businesses opening doors the day after Christmas indicated that employees were late or did not report to work due to the winter weather conditions.
Stores, however, managed to do a brisk business in snow removal products. Snow shovels and snowblowers were being purchased by large numbers of local consumers.
Residents who were seeking snow shovels after about noon last Friday were generally out of luck since many stores were sold out.
One local store had a single new snowblower in stock and when they opened on Friday morning an individual was waiting at the door to buy it. Before the customer and store help could get it loaded in the customer's truck, employees had three more calls to see if they had any blowers for sale.
While the storm continued through most of Friday, clearing skies began late in the afternoon and into the evening. Saturday morning dawned clear and very cold with temperatures in the teens, and those that hadn't cleared away the snow on Friday were sorry to see their job had been made much more difficult because now much of the snow had turned to ice.
By last Saturday afternoon, the sun had come out and while still cold, many were enjoying the new found fluff. Children could be seen building snow men and sleighing down hills.
Snowmobiles were seen traveling in many open areas and even used as transportation on some of the snowier roads in the county.
North of Price, many of the gas field roads turned into areas were people were trying out their four wheel drives and four wheelers pulling tubes. Even some cross country skiers could be seen.
"We have never seen snow like this since we moved here a few years ago," said Shanny Wilson as she wheeled a shopping cart out of local store on Saturday morning.
Many Carbon County residents wondered whether the holiday storm had ended what has turned out to be a five plus year drought.
But officials warn that one storm, no matter how big or how wet, will not turn a 12 plus inch deficit of precipitation during the past half decade around.
Most experts estimated that it will take at least five to six storms like the one that arrived last week to bring the Carbon County area back to normal water levels.
Still the water content in the snow was high and in most areas of the county close to one inch of precipitation landed via the winter white stuff.
Officials indicate the snow will improve the moisture content of the soil when it melts.