1600 HOURS MST SATURDAY March 13, 2010 BEAVER, UTAH
Got up and on the road southbound at I-15 at 0600 HOURS after a banana and a sausage biscuit from Micky D’s. the road was dark and dry, and after sunup pretty cloudy and gloomy. At Mallad Summit south of Pocatello, we hit the first snowstorm. Not bad, but just getting to the point of icing the road surface, before we drive out of it at Tremonton, Utah.
I-15 through the Salt Lake Metroplex had the least amount of traffic we have seen in years, but this is at 1000 on a gloomy rainy Saturday morning.
After a quick lunch in Nephi, Utah, we head south into the first of the heavy rainstorms. The speed limit here in the open desert is 80mph but you have to be crazy to go that fast with this amount of water on the road. South of Scipio, the rain clouds lift and we can see 30-40 miles south across the big bowl of this portion of the Great Basin around Fillmore, Utah. Stopping at Fillmore for more diesel (pricey for Montana at $3.19/gallon) we can see big storm cells moving north toward us. Maybe its just a few more rainstorms I think.
Ten miles south of Fillmore, we find out it’s not.
A huge wall cloud of the approaching snowstorm hits the Sporty with a vicious crosswind from the southwest. Pretty soon there is pea size hail pelting the vehicle, with bolts of lightning off to the east of the interstate. A timid (or wise) trucker has stopped under an overpass, and positioned his windshield out of the direct force of the hail. A couple of RVs have pulled off on the shoulder, and a 5 by 3 foot interstate road sign is twisted into pretzel by the side of the road from the winds in the storm front. We have motel reservations in Cedar City tonight, but we will be lucky to get to the next tiny town, Beaver Utah in this storm.
The interstate goes up and over several high spurs coming westward over the Utah mountains into the Great Basin desert at this point, and the snow gets worse by the mile. Forward visibility is reduced to 50 and then 25 yards and the road is covered with several inches of icy slush. More worrisome is that the windshield wipers on the Sporty continue to ice up, forcing us to stop twice to clean the ice off of the frozen blades, even with the defrost going full blast. At one point the entire windshield is iced-over, except for the small swath cleared by the ice encrusted wipers.
After many miles creeping along at 40mph in heavy traffic in heavy wet snow, we have had enough and can barely see the exit at Beaver Utah. We get a motel room at 1430 HOURS and collapse for a while. Notice the frozen headlights on the Sporty:
Checking the Internet in the motel room, a 150 mile stretch of I-15 has whiteout conditions. 70 miles south of Beaver, there’s dry pavement. Oh well, the dry desert will have to wait until tomorrow.