Zion National Park officials cleaning up after flash floods sweep southern Utah


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SPRINGDALE — Officials in Zion National Park are mounting a cleanup effort after a series of flash floods washed over southern Utah Tuesday.

State Route 9 near the park was closed due to flash flooding but was reopened between Springdale and Rockville later in the evening. S.R. 9 remained closed near Zion, according to the Utah Department of Transportation.

Flash flooding is probable for the park on Wednesday, officials said.

The park will be on a modified operations schedule on Wednesday as crews continue cleaning up flooding debris, Zion officials said in a statement. Officials anticipate reopening S.R. 9, the south and east park entrances, the Zion Canyon Visitor Center and park store, as well as the shuttle services within the park and town of Springdale.

However, the oversized vehicle lot at Zion will remain closed until further notice, and the park has very little parking for oversized vehicles due to the closure, according to the park. People with oversized vehicles should plan to park in Springdale and take shuttles into the park.

Also Tuesday, two people were rescued from a slot canyon in Escalante by a Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter as a flash flood swept through the canyon.

The two people were able to seek higher ground and were lifted to safety, the Garfield County Sheriff's Office said. Local authorities warn hikers and residents to watch the weather and be aware of the possibility of flash flooding as monsoon season approaches.

The National Weather Service issued several advisories for southern Utah on Tuesday as the area experienced extreme thunderstorms, strong wind gusts and flash flooding that has affected both residences and roadways.

The weather service issued a flash flood warning for Garfield County — including Death Hollow Canyon, Micro Death Hollow Canyon, and the Upper Escalante River Canyon — and the Hildale area of Washington County.

Fire departments in the Hildale area reported multiple road closures Tuesday, including state Route 59, and multiple flooded residences. There were also several stranded motorists in the Hildale and Colorado City area, according to the National Weather Service. The last major flooding in the Hildale area was a 2016 flash flood with severe weather that killed 13 people.

If caught in a flash flood, the National Weather Service advises people to move to higher ground immediately and to avoid walking or driving in the water.

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Ashley Fredde covers human services and and women's issues for KSL.com. She also enjoys reporting on arts, culture and entertainment news. She's a graduate of the University of Arizona.

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