Gov. Cox declares state of emergency over snowmelt flooding, landslides in Utah

A street is damaged by flooding in Kaysville on April 12. Gov. Spencer Cox issued a state of emergency over flooding in Utah on Tuesday.

A street is damaged by flooding in Kaysville on April 12. Gov. Spencer Cox issued a state of emergency over flooding in Utah on Tuesday. (Adam Small, KSL NewsRadio)

Save Story
Leer en español

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox declared a state of emergency over flooding and other natural disasters tied to the spring runoff, such as avalanches and landslides.

The governor issued the declaration Tuesday afternoon as Utah's record snowpack continues to slowly melt, noting the measure is meant to help the state "tap into reserve funds" as it deals with flood response and mitigation efforts.

"We're incredibly grateful for the moisture we've received this winter but the extra rain and hefty snowpack present increasing flood risks as the snow melts," he said in a statement. "By declaring a state of emergency ... we'll be better prepared for what lies ahead this spring."

He previously issued a declaration recognizing April as "Flood Safety Month" in the state.

Only about 2.9 inches of Utah's statewide snowpack has melted since April 8 after it reached a record 30 inches, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service data on Tuesday. That's nearly one-tenth of the total.

Even so, it's resulted in flooding, avalanches and other landslides over the past few weeks, including extensive damage in Kaysville and dozens of voluntary evacuations in Salt Lake City. The governor's announcement also follows a mudslide in Morgan County over the weekend, which led to four people needing to evacuate their homes.

Depending on weather conditions, the rest of the snowmelt could continue into July, according to Paul Miller, service coordination hydrologist for the National Weather Service's Colorado Basin River Forecast Center. He told on Monday that many streams across northern Utah are also forecast to flow near or above 200% of average, especially by the usual peak in mid-May.

How quickly Utah warms up will ultimately determine how fast the water flows but the record snowpack may result in record streamflows, he said. It also may result in more flooding, which can get worse if the snow melts very quickly.

Cox notes in the order that "many" communities have already declared local emergencies. That includes Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, who issued a similar emergency order last week after Salt Lake City's flooding incident.

The incidents and ongoing flood threats have resulted in the state blowing past the $5 million that the Utah Legislature set aside for emergency management flood mitigation during this year's legislative session, Cox said. More than 1 million sandbags have been dispersed and the State Emergency Response Team is currently helping communities impacted by flooding.

An emergency order helps Utah receive funds from the State Disaster Recovery Restricted Account, so the state and impacted communities don't deal with the cost burden alone.

"Declaring a state of emergency will facilitate the protection of persons and property from the impacts of flooding and potential flooding, and expedite the use of state resources, as well as support requests for federal and interstate resources if required," Cox wrote in the order, adding that it would help Utah tap into help from other states through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.

The order will remain in effect for the next 30 days unless the Utah Legislature extends it in May.

Most recent Utah weather stories

Related topics

Utah governmentUtah weatherUtahEnvironment
Carter Williams is a reporter who covers general news, local government, outdoors, history and sports for


Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast