SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – Dodging property damage from wildfires doesn’t mean concerns are over for homeowners. Living below a wildfire burn scar means the concern has now shifted to mudslides and floods.
“If you have vegetation that’s cooked off and you have soils that are hydrophobic, it repels water like a Gor-Tex jacket. What happens is you get rain on the hillside which repels instead of infiltrates and that water runs down and then scoops out the bottom where the hillside is,” said Brian McInerney, hydrologist for the National Weather Service forecast office for Salt Lake City.
McInerney said debris flow depends on several factors such as the how steep the slope is and the amount of rainfall.
“If the area has been moderately to severely burned, then we’re talking about 1/2 inch in about a 1/2 hour to start a debris flow,” said McInerney.