Storm causes minor flooding in Utah; Colorado due next

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Spring storms that have been pounding the West hit northern Utah over the weekend, causing minor flooding and a rock slide, with more storms forecast this week here and in neighboring Colorado.

The storm dumped up to 2 inches of rain in some areas and several inches of mountain snow in Utah, flooding several homes, triggering an avalanche warning and forcing the closure a canyon road after a boulder the size of a car blocked the road.

The storm is heading for Colorado next, with up to 2 feet of snow expected in the eastern mountains and heavy rain starting Monday evening.

Pacific storm systems are driving the unusually cold and damp weather, National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Struthwolf said. A weather ridge that protected the West from storms all winter dissipated, opening the door for these latest patterns of disruptive weather, he said.

"We're just getting one storm after another," said Struthwolf, who is based in Salt Lake City.

In Nevada, the Las Vegas area had dark clouds Monday that brought showers and severe thunderstorms and let loose hail the size of quarters in neighborhoods close to the region's mountains.

After a dry and mild winter, northern Utah has received more than double the average rain for May with more than 3 inches already, Struthwolf said. Several cities broke one-day records for rain over the weekend.

Temperatures have dropped to about 10 to 15 degrees below normal, forcing residents to put on pants and jackets and to keep the shorts and T-shirts in the closet a little longer.

On Sunday, the rain dislodged a boulder that tumbled onto a road in Farmington Canyon, 20 miles north of Salt Lake City. It was discovered about 11 a.m. Sunday and removed a few hours later, Davis County sheriff's officials said.

The road will remain closed at least through Tuesday while engineers examine the potential for other loosened rocks to fall, authorities said.

On Monday, a different rock slide closed part of U.S. Highway 6 in Carbon County about 100 miles south of Salt Lake City, the Utah Department of Transportation said.

During the weekend, the storm brought a surprise dousing of snow to the Utah mountains — including a high of 16 inches at 9,700-foot Ben Lomond Peak near the Idaho border and 7 inches at Brighton Ski Resort further south near Salt Lake City.

An avalanche warning was issued because of the amount of snow and how heavy and dense it was, said Bruce Tremper, director of the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center.

Backcountry skiers love to ski on the slopes of ski resorts that are closed for the season, Tremper said, and one of them got caught in an avalanche over the weekend at Alta Ski Area. That person lost gear, but emerged unscathed, he said. No other major incidents were reported, he said.

Tremper said the avalanche warning was one of the latest he can remember. He doesn't expect to have to send out another this week, even though more rain is forecast for Utah and Colorado.

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