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Richard Piatt ReportingThey're watching the snow pack again, but this time it's all about the runoff. Memories of flooding in Southern Utah earlier this year have people wondering if such a thing can happen again. And elsewhere, could mudslides flow down from hillsides from Spanish Fork and Farmington?
This week's warmer temperatures have a lot of people thinking about the inevitable: snow turning to water. It's a particular concern in areas where there is a lot of snow above, and steep hillsides or rivers below. The worry is this: Will massive runoff cause problems, or not? And what can people do to prepare?
In the hills above Farmington snow creates a picturesque scene. But along Compton Avenue north of town, there are memories of a snow-melt and rain nightmare.
It happened last April when a mudslide invaded the neighborhood. But it wasn't just a sloppy mess. There was danger; rocks rolled down the steep hillsides too. Damage wasn't too bad and there were no injuries. Some took a look at their insurance policy and considered flood coverage.
Bailey Dunford, Farmington Resident: "We do now. And of course, last year no one had flood insurance. And you don't get just flood insurance, you have to get a rider for mud and rock removal."
This year the city has done a lot to reduce the risk of damage, including planting grass and increasing the confidence of those who live below.
Bob Snyder, Farmington Resident: "They've got a lot of big trenches and ponds and whatnot. So there's not a lot of concern."
But in areas of Southern Utah the snow is built up so much that even experts are saying at least a little flooding is likely.
Randy Julander: “There are going to be a lot of places where water is out of the stream marks.”
Jerry Koller, Duck Creek Realty: “It’s been incredible. This is the heaviest, wettest snow I can remember, and I’ve been here 30 years.”
The situation is causing FEMA to urge people in floodplains and along hillsides, especially in the Saint George area, to consider flood insurance.
Aside from drastic measures like Farmington has taken, or sandbagging ahead of time, there really isn't much else to do except keep the flood watch.
There is another worry about the snow melting too fast, especially in Northern Utah; if all the water goes to mudslides and flooding, there won't be enough in reserve for the summer.