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Strong thunderstorms cause problems across the Salt Lake Valley

Posted - Aug. 19, 2010 at 4:14 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY -- Severe weather is causing delays and wreaking havoc across Northern Utah. The first line of storms hit parts of Davis and Weber Counties Thursday morning, and round two moved into the Salt Lake Valley quickly behind.

Weather causes delays for drivers across valley

The heavy rain caused complications for drivers in many parts of the Wasatch Front, but one of the thorniest problems was on 3300 South where it crosses beneath Interstate 15. There's a low spot on the east side of the crossing where water tends to pool. Shortly after heavy rains washed across the valley, 3300 South became a lake -- or, at least, a giant puddle.

It got deep enough to quickly cut off traffic both east and westbound on 3300 South. Police say some vehicles were stalled in water was as deep as two feet in some parts.

There were no shutdowns on the freeway itself, although there were slowdowns and backups. But on 3300 South itself, authorities shut down east and westbound traffic, diverting it onto the freeway or side streets until the lanes could be reopened at 3:00 p.m.

"This is the first time I can recall that we've had to shut this intersection down, so in the past three, four, five years," said Gary Keller with the South Salt Lake Police Department. "So it's unusual. We don't know if the drainage system has been clogged with leaves and debris. We have crews on scene and they're working on it now."

South valley flooding affects travelers and homeowners

The weather-related problems were not confined to South Salt Lake. Videos posted on YouTube Thursday show flooded streets in Riverton. Up and down the Wasatch Front there were numerous flooding situations and storm-related accidents, including a jackknifed semi on I-215.

"We had a rash of crashes right after the rainstorms hit," said Sgt. Larry Mower with the Utah Highway Patrol. "We had areas where we had standing water, a couple of cars hydroplaned, things like that."

Draper Flooding Help

Draper city has crews with heavy equipment available to assist homeowners. Residents can pick up sandbags at the Draper Public Works Facility at 72 E. 14525 South.

For a few unlucky homeowners, there were some serious issues. Firefighters helped move furniture and belongings out of a basement in Herriman. It's the kind of flood that seems small-scale, unless it happens to your family.

Homeowner Tara Kinkead said, "This whole window well was full of water. And then it pushed through and busted the window and just flooded in through the basement, and it just kept coming through."

In Draper, residents of up to 25 homes have reported flooding. Near Springdale Way, which is about 13200 South and 1700 East, city crews have been on the scene for the better part of the afternoon working to clear the mud, debris and rocks that filled the neighborhood.

Residents say they watched the water rush down the street, followed by a trail of mud and rocks, after the storm. The debris flow came down from the Corner Canyon fire zone.

"You just kind of watch it happen. There's nothing you can really do, just watch mother nature take its course," said Andrea Wilkinson, whose yard flooded.

"A boulder blocked the driveway and so it diverted the water and mud into my driveway, so it kind of backed up against the garage doors and pooled right there," said neighbor Tiffany Wallace.

A lot of the muddy water washed away yards, and homeowners are now left to clean up the mess with city crews. Thankfully for this neighborhood their homes were not flooded, but residents say a few streets down their neighbors were not so lucky.

Draper is also reporting an active debris flow in the Steeplechase area above Highland Drive. Crews closed Highland Drive from Bear Hollow to the Draper City Equestrian Center.

For more information, check the KSL Weather Center.

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Story compiled with contributions from John Hollenhorst and Anne Forester.

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