Winter weather causes crashes, leaves others stuck on I-15

Interstate 15 is covered in snow in Southern California, Dec. 26, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Johnny Lim via The Associated Press, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Winter weather has created havoc along Interstate 15 from the Cajon Pass in California into and beyond Millard County Utah.

According to the Utah Highway Patrol, five non-injury crashes along I-15 in Iron and Millard counties were reported between 6:45-9:45 a.m. on Friday. Additional crashes included one at the Bulldog Road overpass and state Route 20 five miles east of I-15.

One of the crashes on I-15 at mile marker 57 in Cedar City resulted in the arrest of the driver who was taken into custody on misdemeanor warrants.

“All of the crashes involved property damage because of weather-related conditions,” a UHP spokesperson said. “Things mostly happened before snowplows could really get a handle on things, but the roads will be easier to travel on now.”

Although Southern Utah has experienced inclement weather for the past few days, the current band of rain and snow mix began sweeping though California Thursday. At 7:34 a.m. the National Weather Service issued its first advisory discouraging travel and warning that road closures were expected.

At 8:31 a.m., motorists traveling along I-15 tweeted they had been stuck on the Cajon Pass in California. The California Department of Transportation had closed the interstate on the pass at 6 a.m.

Both the Cajon Pass pictured here and Mountain Pass along Interstate 15 were closed several times during a post-Christmas storm Thursday. Cajon Pass, CA., Dec. 26, 2019 | Photo courtesy CalTrans

“This is traumatizing,” Johnny Lim tweeted. “Even the police cannot help us. It’s freezing out here.”

As the winter storm traveled north so did road closures.

In the early morning hours Thursday, the Nevada Department of Transportation closed a 40-mile stretch of southbound travel along I-15 between the Nevada/California state line in Primm and Baker California. Although the interstate briefly reopened, by 9:30 a.m. the road was again closed.

At the time, the Nevada Highway Patrol warned motorists that off-and-on closures were likely to continue through Mountain Pass near Baker until the roads could be cleared.

By 5:45 a.m. Friday, the Cajon was finally reopened for travel. And by 8:30 a.m., both lanes of I-15 were clear of snow. The California Department of Transportation said they had removed three feet of snow and ice at Mountain Pass.

The National Weather Services along with the California Department of Transportation anticipates poor driving conditions to continue along I-15 at both Mountain Pass and the Cajon Pass through Friday afternoon.

Although the weather is clearing, according to Arizona Department of Public Safety Sgt. John Bottoms, there is a large volume of traffic traveling northbound on I-15 from Nevada. Bottoms said traffic is backed up approximately 10 miles as you approach the Virgin River Gorge. Southbound through the Gorge there is about a one-mile backup.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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