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Watch out for rivers, streams: melting snow to raise water levels

By Keith McCord | Posted - May 10th, 2013 @ 8:12pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah has been losing 1 to 3 inches of snow pack per day; but as the temps make a big jump in the next few days, the melt-off will increase.

The snowpack on the mountains may still look impressive right now, but it's only about half of what it normally is at this time of the year. And that means this spring's runoff will be about half as well. But there's plenty still up there, and it starts coming down in earnest this weekend.

"First off, we're going to get our first 80 degree day of the year on May 10th," said Kevin Eubank, KSL Meteorologist. "But then we're going to get our first 90 two days later."

Brian McInerney, a hydrologist from the National Weather Service, says to expect a lot of snow runoff this weekend.


That water is going to come out in a great amount this weekend and peak on Monday for many of the streams that are fed by the high and mid elevation snowpacks.

–Brian McInerney


"That water is going to come out in a great amount this weekend and peak on Monday for many of the streams that are fed by the high and mid elevation snowpacks," McInerney said.

Normally, Utah's streams and rivers reach their highest levels around the end of May or early June. But Utah had a subpar snow fall year and a lot has already melted. In terms of reservoir capacity, some will be far from full by the time all the snow comes down.

"We had a rough year last year and we were depleted," Eubank said. "We would have loved to have replenished that, it just didn't happen this year."

That said, with temperatures about to jump, streams and rivers will increase up to 10 times their normal volumes, making them extremely dangerous to be around. They'll still run swift and very cold.

"If you're out and about this weekend and eating dinner near those creeks, you're going to hear them raging and rushing," Eubank said.

McInerney says that hikers need to be careful.

"It's a very dangerous part of our state for the next two to three weeks, so you want to be very careful, watch your kids. If you're going to venture near these streams, use good judgment," McInerney said.

There's a small silver lining though: if Utah had a normal snowpack situation, combined with our predicted 90 degree temperatures, there would have been flooding in some areas. This year, it's probably not going to happen.

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Keith McCord

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Updated: Friday September 21, 2018 6:00 am