CORINNE, Utah (ABC4) — Driving down Highway 13 into Corinne, Utah, there is water almost everywhere you look. The Bear River flowing through Box Elder County is at a minor flood stage right now, and many low-lying areas adjacent to the river are inundated with water.
According to the Mayor of Corinne City, Shane Baton, the County said they’re at about 8,900 cubic feet per second (CFS) coming down the river. Typical runoff, from what he was told, is 4,500-5,500, so they’re 3,000 CFS above what’s normal. Many low-lying areas, including farmland surrounding the river, are flooding right now, and there’s a good chance this won’t change anytime soon.
“There’s no timetable, until all the snow’s gone essentially, and the water can move through the system,” said Glen Merrill, a hydrologist with the National Weather Forecast Office in Salt Lake City. “Right now, our warnings out for that area are until further notice which we’re expecting quite a long time period, several weeks, if not a month.”
High river flows will continue to impact local farmers near the river as well.
“Ultimately farmers are very impacted by it, they’re late into their growth season now or planting season now, and everything is underwater,” Baton said. “You got cattle farmers, beef farmers, dairy farmers, we’re an agriculturally based town, and they’re impacted mostly.”
In Corinne, only one city road is being threatened by the flood waters for now, and it’s within inches of possibly being washed out.
“Two to three inches before water starts coming up over that,” Baton said. “The city owns it; it’s a city road, it is a dirt road, it serves access to one resident down there, it serves access to our sewer ponds, that sections a lot higher, and then it serves access to the working corrals for one of the beef farmers down there. Really what should happen is that section of road should come up about three feet.”
Baton says it’s difficult to find funding for the repairs in his city.
“Hard to get on a city with an $800,000 annual budget, when you have $200,000 worth of work that needs to be done on one small 700-foot section of road, that really hurts,” Baton said.
Repairs are likely needed given the amount of water that still needs to come off the mountains.
“Some SNOTEL sites at the upper elevations there’s still 50″ of water stored in that snowpack that really hasn’t come down yet, so we’re already seeing a lot of water obviously, and there’s only going to be more water put into that system over time,” Merrill said. “But a lot of the water in the Bear River System does come from high elevation watersheds, from Uintas, the Northern Wasatch, several ranges in southeastern Idaho as well.”
River flows are forecast to come down over the next few days but will still remain a threat. The mayor is working with some state agencies to file for grants to help cover a portion of the road modifications. The farmers in the area will likely continue to see impacts into early summer.