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Utah’s high temperatures in recent days have accelerated snowmelt and increased flood risk, with flood warnings and vigilance still in effect across much of the state.
However, temperatures are expected to drop soon, which the National Weather Service says could bring some relief.
Highs will be in the low 70s on Thursday and then drop into the 60s – even the high 50s in some areas – by Friday through the middle of next week. And it can rain every day until Tuesday.
Meanwhile, flooding problems exist throughout Utah.
Family ID cards swept away from missing woman in Weber County
Authorities continued a search on Wednesday for a woman who fell into the Weber River near Uintah on Monday and was swept away.
Family members have identified her as Libby Stimpson, 28. They said Stimpson was walking her dogs along the river at her family farm around 5:30 p.m. Monday when she somehow fell in.
Several witnesses said they heard Stimpson scream and saw the water carry her away, officials said. But the family’s first clue that something was wrong was when Stimpson’s dogs returned home wet and alone, her sister Laura Trumbo said.
“That’s how they found out something happened in the river,” she said. The dogs were unharmed, but late Monday officers considered the search for Stimpson a rescue mission.
Trumbo said her sister “walked her dogs every day” and let them run around the family property to “get her energy out.”
“She loved those dogs,” she said. “They were basically her children.”
Stimpson’s family wants people to know who the crews are looking for, Trumbo said. “And we want to express our family’s deep appreciation for the search and rescue teams who risked their own safety to try to find them.”
Little Cottonwood Canyon reopens after a mudslide
Crews worked early Wednesday to clear a large mudslide that blanketed State Road 210 about halfway up Little Cottonwood Canyon Tuesday afternoon.
The slide was about 100 feet wide and 4 feet deep, according to the Utah Department of Transportation. At that time, the gorge was already closed to traffic due to increased avalanche danger, so no accidents or injuries were reported.
The carriageway reopened Wednesday afternoon after crews worked to clear debris, with spotters and signals in place to stop traffic until 6pm if necessary
After that, the roadway remained open, but UDOT advised people to travel at their own risk and be aware of the “inherent road hazards” in the gorge.
Salt Lake City still monitors Emigration Creek
In Salt Lake City, officials continue to monitor Emigration Creek, which was expected to surpass its flood level (130 cubic feet per second) late Wednesday and peak at about 160 cfs Thursday morning, according to the National Weather Service.
Minor flooding along the creek is possible late Wednesday through Thursday morning. However, Salt Lake City officials have said the flood control system is capable of handling the higher flows unless debris clogs the system. In mid-April — when a blockage in the system allowed water to spill over the pavement near Wasatch Hollow Park — the flow on the creek peaked at 155 cfs.
Emigration Canyon saw some road and culverts overnight Tuesday, officials said. Salt Lake County flood control teams worked “all night” in the canyon clearing debris.
Sugar House Park, which serves as a flood detention basin, will remain closed to vehicles until at least May 14.
Spanish Fork declares a state of emergency
Mayor Mike Mendenhall declared a state of emergency for Spanish Fork this week, noting that city officials expect high and fast flows in the Spanish Fork River.
“This week’s discharge will test the capacity of our river,” Mendenhall said in a statement Monday. The statement allows the city access to state resources reserved for such emergencies.
Mendenhall noted in a press release that the city had done “a lot of work” to prepare the river channel for snowmelt, adding that volunteers had filled thousands of sandbags to protect homes and businesses.
But officials fear debris could build up in the river and “form a dam” that could clog the system and worsen flooding. Teams are working to clear debris, but in the meantime residents should avoid river recreation and keep children and pets off the riverbanks, the city advised.
Hyrum Dam overflow on guard
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation continues to monitor the spill at Hyrum Dam — on the Little Bear River, about 9 miles southwest of Logan — 24/7 as operators release “a large volume of water” to raise Hyrum Reservoir water levels during warm temperatures manage “have significantly increased snowmelt and runoff into the reservoir.”
The dam was built in 1935 and the spillway “has served us well for 90 years,” said Wayne Pullan, the bureau’s regional director, “but because of its age and because it lacks the features of a modern spillway, the bureau is prepared for an emergency.” act immediately”.
A flood watch is in place for the area below the reservoir until Friday morning. Just south of Hyrum, moderate flooding is possible along the Little Bear River near the town of Paradise through Friday morning.
Garden City area still under flood warning
A flood warning remains in effect for the Garden City area of Rich County through 3 p.m. Thursday as snowmelt affects rivers, streams, creeks and other low-lying or flood-prone areas.
“Many low-water crossings are inundated with water and may not be passable,” the weather service advised.
Garden City’s mayor declared a state of emergency Monday to prepare for flooding. He encouraged all homeowners to check their properties and found that about 80% of homes are vacation rentals or short-term rentals.
Other flood risk throughout Utah
There is a “moderate” risk of flooding along the South Fork of the Ogden River through Friday. The river is expected to peak at about 5.3 feet/1,500 cfs Friday morning, above its high water level of 4.6 feet/992 cfs. Towards the weekend the currents decrease.
In southern Utah, near the Garfield County town of Hatch, the Sevier River is expected to peak nearly 4.4 feet Thursday morning — above its 3.9-foot high water level. Water levels are expected to “oscillate” near high tide through Friday night and drop over the weekend.
In southwest Utah, Washington County Emergency Manager Jason Bradley said the only report of flooding early Wednesday occurred in Bloomington, where water from the Virgin River partially covered a bike path that runs parallel to the waterway.
“If you look at the Virgin River anywhere [the St. George area], the water is raging,” Bradley said. “But for now it stays where it belongs.”
In the unlikely event that flooding becomes an issue, district officials have placed sandbags in strategic areas. St. George and other towns in the county also have sandbags available at municipal fire stations.
— Mark Eddington, Contributor to the Tribune, contributed to this report.