SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – “We need the snow” is a phrase that has been uttered throughout Utah as the state was hit with storm after storm in an “endless winter.” Flooding has been an ongoing concern, but with warmer weather coming this weekend, the concerns are rising again.
Weather along the Wasatch Front this weekend is expected to hit high 60s to low 70s. Meanwhile, St. George is forecasted to jump into the 80s. The sudden jump from below seasonal temperature averages to roughly eight to 10 degrees above is concerning with the state’s record-breaking 29 inches in Snow Water Equivalent (SWE).
This year’s snowpack has been compared to the winter season of 1983, which set the previous SWE record of 28 inches. Widespread floods affected Utah, including a running river rushing down State Street in downtown Salt Lake City.
While there is certainly a real concern for flooding this year, as Utah Gov. Spencer Cox declared April Flood Safety Awareness Month, officials are assuring the public infrastructure is better now than it was 40 years ago.
Davis County Public Works said significant work has been done to upgrade infrastructure throughout the county to help mitigate flood flows. Shortly after the 1983 floods, Davis County created the Davis County Flood Control program. In cooperation with local cities, as well as state and federal governments, Davis County improved a network of flood control channels.
With the improvements, Davis County said the possibility of flooding should be lowered, saying there were no notable floods in 2011 when SWE levels reached 24.3 inches.
“Davis County Flood Control, with the help of local cities, has been monitoring the snowpack and water levels of waterways throughout the county,” said Davis County Public Works Director Adam Wright. “Major efforts are being made to ensure culverts and flood channels are free of debris and we are prepared to respond to significant flooding events if they occur. As we work together, we can minimize the impacts of flooding throughout the county.”
Other areas across Utah outside of Davis County have been working on flood mitigation and preparation as well. Provo City has been clearing debris from the Provo River and offering sandbags to residents as a proactive measure. Northern Utah counties including Box Elder, Weber, and Cache County have been offering sandbags since early March in preparation for floods.
Even with all the infrastructure upgrades and sandbag prep, there is still a concern for floods. The Utah Department of Public Safety’s Division of Emergency Management recently upgraded the flood watch from Level 4 to Level 3, or “Monitoring” to “Enhanced Watch.”
Utahns are encouraged to help mitigate flood potential by clearing out drainages of debris.
To learn more about flooding, or to find flooding resources, visit the Division of Emergency Management’s website.