Warm weather and melting snow will create “extremely dangerous” conditions in Utah

The National Weather Service is warning Utah residents to stay away from waterways

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) High water levels in Salt Lake City’s Sugar House Park on Wednesday, April 26, 2023.

Expect clear skies, warming temperatures, and generally nice weather over the next few days — along with flooding as Utah’s record snowpack melts.

“Streams, streams and rivers will experience significant increases early next week,” the National Weather Service warns, “particularly low- and mid-elevation watersheds.”

Snowmelt will create “extremely dangerous” conditions as “waterways will be high, fast and cold”. The Weather Service is warning people to keep a safe distance from rivers and streams to avoid the “risk of hypothermia and drowning, even for short stays in the water.”

The Weather Service warns of possible flooding in most of Utah, from the Idaho border in the north to the Cedar City area in the south, from the Nevada border in the west to the Green River in the east. There is a flood advisory in eastern Utah. Only the southwestern part of the state is not at risk of flooding.

(National Weather Service) Temperatures will be about 15 degrees above normal in much of Utah for the next few days, which will accelerate the melting of record snowpack.

Temperatures in the upper 60s are forecast in the Salt Lake City area on Friday; the mid to high 70s on Saturdays; and the low to mid 80s Sunday through Wednesday. That’s about 15 degrees above normal for this time of year.

No precipitation is forecast until the middle of next week, but the higher temperatures will accelerate snowmelt.

The Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities is closely monitoring the watercourses in City Creek, Emigration Creek, Red Butte Creek and Parleys Creek but has expressed confidence that flooding can be avoided.

“We anticipate that Salt Lake City’s power and infrastructure system will have the capacity to accommodate the projected power flows over the next few days,” said Laura Briefer, director of Public Utilities. “Drain experts from both the city and Salt Lake County will continue to monitor and clean the drainage system 24 hours a day.”

As the city will continue to release water from the Mountain Dell and Little Dell reservoirs to control the flow, flood control ponds at Parleys Nature Preserve, Sugar House Park and Hidden Hollow will overflow their regular banks.

Mayor Erin Mendenhall urged residents to report debris-clogged grates and creeks “resetting.” Residents can call 801-483-6700 to report flooding.

Temperatures are not expected to drop back to near normal — the high 60s — until Thursday.

The forecast for southern Utah is also sunny, dry and warmer than normal. Temperatures in the St. George area are expected to be in the mid to high 80s on Friday and the low to mid 90s Saturday through Monday. Normal temperatures are around 80.

Justin Scaccy

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