Northern and Southwestern Utah Prepare for Spring Runoff

Northern and Southwestern Utah Prepare for Spring Runoff

Save Story

Estimated read time: 2-3 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 Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information.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 (AP) -- A snowy winter followed by a cold, wet spring followed by rapid warming and floods -- that was the scenario in 1983 and some fear there could be a repeat this year both in the northern and southwestern areas of the state.

But hundreds of millions dollars has been spent for restoration and flood prevention since 1983 and officials believe they're better prepared to handle high water this year than they were then. And the work continues.

On Monday, city and Iron County workers raced to complete a flood channel on the west side of Cedar City, which is being built to divert runoff from the record snowpack on the nearby mountains into Quichapa Lake.

"I won't sleep well for the next 60 nights," county engineer Steve Platt said.

Adding to his unrest is the fact that the forecast for the remainder of April is cold and damp.

National Weather Service hydrologist Brian McInerney said, "We want it drier and warmer, and we're not getting it.

"The snowpack needs energy (heat) right now so it doesn't all come down at once," he said.

McInerney said April temperatures have consistently run about 2 to 4 degrees below normal.

He said if they were 6 degrees above the average, the mounting snowpack would melt off gradually.

Meanwhile, in Salt Lake County, flood control officials are preparing for the worst, filling sandbags and giving them out to municipalities just in case.

Neil Stack, director of the county engineering division, says the key factor is debris.

In 1983, City Creek didn't jump its banks because of too much water, Stack said. The problem was sediment and debris which plugged up the pipe where City Creek went underground at Memory Grove.

"We had to use dynamite to unplug that thing," said county engineering program manager Terry Way.

The restoration and preventive work that has been done since then includes two debris-collection basins above Memory Grove.

Emigration, Big Cottonwood and Little Cottonwood also got debris-collection basins.

Workers also have improved creek banks to reduce erosion and have widened creek beds.

The Jordan River meander corridor was established to keep development out and provide space for natural flooding.

As in southern Utah, there's still more to be done. Several creeks do not have debris-collection basins, some channels still need improvement and there are other projects pending.

Also with previous years' low water levels, debris has built up along creek banks. Many residents along the creeks aren't helping by their dumping lawn clippings and the like into the stream.

"People cause themselves as much grief as nature," county engineering project manager Brent Beardall said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Most recent Utah stories

Related topics



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