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OGDEN — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert toured a water-logged western Weber County on Tuesday, surveying hundreds of acres of farmland already under water and homes at risk for flooding.
During the tour, state emergency officials announced that Utah is on “heightened alert” for severe flooding as temperatures finally start to climb.
In Weber County alone, the financial impact could be devastating, causing an estimated $90 million in damage.
The governor’s tour included a stop at the Riverside subdivision in Marriott-Slaterville, where high-end, five-acre lots are largely under water.
Another stop had Herbert talking with farmers and ranchers who are seeing their livelihood swamped with high flows from the Weber River.
"We can't control everything — we don't have a lot to say with Mother Nature — but we can mitigate the effects of Mother Nature. And that is what we are trying to do here," Herbert said. "It is going to take the work of everybody. This is an 'all hands on deck' exercise."
Flooding is a major concern in multiple areas throughout the state, but is keenly being felt in northern Utah where the snowpack, as of Tuesday, is five times greater than normal.
- Davis County
- Juab County
- Morgan County
- Piute County
- Sevier County
- Summit County
- Utah County
- Weber County
"We are monitoring the situation around the state not only daily, but literally hourly so we know what's going on," Herbert said. "We are going to keep our attention on the weather."
The governor is pleading with everyone in Utah to prepare for flooding and the dangers that can come from it.
“Of all the natural disasters we have the potential to have, flooding is the most costly and the one that has the largest threat to human life,” Herbert said. “Historically, that is where we have lost property and people.”
We're going to start to see a bunch of other creeks and rivers that have not been in the news lately start to rise.
–Grant Weyman, KSL meteorologist
Weather watchers say new issues could surface in new places as well. "The Cottonwoods — we're going to start to see a bunch of other creeks and rivers that have not been in the news lately start to rise, and we'll just have to see how high they get," KSL meteorologist Grant Weyman said Tuesday morning.
Experts have been able to pin their hopes on a cycle involving several warm days, followed by several cool days, as a way to minimize flooding risk. While northern Utah appears to be in that pattern through at least the next week, Weyman isn't sure that will be enough ultimately.
"We have such an abundant amount of snow; I don't think anybody has a good answer to that question because we've seen more snow than we've ever seen up there before," Weyman said.
May has been the wettest on record in Utah, with 5-plus inches of water.
Monday, flooding and groundwater troubles surfaced in West Valley, Taylorsville, Kaysville, Syracuse and Richfield, among other places.
Several Utah counties remained under a flood warning, meaning flooding is happening now or is imminent.
State officials are asking people to work with their local governments — either the city or county — first, and that everyone be willing to step up and help their neighbor. They say it will be a team effort to get through the runoff season.
"This is not something that sneaked up on us. We have anticipated this for weeks and months, and now it's here," Herbert said. "The next 30 to 45 days is very critical for us, but if we work together we are going to be alright."