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UHP cautions of dangerous driving conditions, flash flooding potential in Southern Utah

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CEDAR CITY (ABC4 News) – A slow moving storm is passing through Southern Utah, bringing heavy rain and snow and hitting the hardest Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning. With so much rain, the National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch through Wednesday evening. Authorities say it takes just a few inches of water for drivers to lose control or even get swept away.

Utah Highway Patrol is cautioning the public of hazardous driving conditions, adding that slick roads contributed to several semi rollovers on major highways Wednesday, including three on I-15 in Southern Utah.

“Give yourself some extra time than you would normally,” UHP Sgt. Ryan Bauer told ABC4 News. “That’s one of the best things we can ask you to do.”

Although it’s best to avoid driving in floods at all, Bauer said that if you must, you should slow down, turn headlights on whenever there’s poor visibility, and leave much more space than normal between you and the car in front of you.

“Don’t overreact when you pass through water on our roadways because you can actually hydroplane when you hit it,” Bauer said. “Rather than panic and put your brakes on, just let your foot off the gas, allow the car to slow down on its own, and just steer through it.”

If you do get stuck in any floods, Bauer said it’s usually best to wait in the car and call for help rather than trying to get out.

“We just want to make sure we have as many officers as we can if the roads turn bad to make sure we’re taking care of people who are stranded or have cars that are broken down,” added Bauer.

According to the National Weather Service, after 154 without rain, St. George has broken its 24 hour precipitation record for the entire month of November — with 1.29 inches — surpassing the amount set in 1893.

Authorities say valley rain will total between 1/2″ and 1.5″ and the mountains above 7000 feet should get 1 to 2 feet of snow through Thursday. Showers will gradually decrease and be confined to higher elevations Thursday afternoon and evening.

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