Southern Utah officials urge caution as waterways run high

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WASHINGTON COUNTY (ABC4 News) – Washington County Search and Rescue teams said Friday afternoon’s clear skies can be deceiving for hikers. 

“Just because the rain may be over, it does not mean that there cannot be a flash flood down any of the washes around here,” said Sgt. Darrell Cashin, Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue liaison.

​This year so far, Washington County Search and Rescue responded to 6 calls of people stuck or injured due to high water levels, according to Cashin. He said rivers are running over 2,000 cubic feet per second, and 6 inches of fast-moving water can sweep people off their feet. 

“There was a tuber in the river that got up and ended up in quicksand and he was stuck in there for three hours before they got him out,” said Cashin. 

Sand Hollow Reservoir, Baker Dam, and Gunlock Reservoir remain at capacity, and the Santa Clara and Virgin rivers are running high, as of Friday. 

Washington County officials said the biggest threat is the four to five feet of compacted snow that remains on the Kolob and Cedar Mountains, translating to more than 2 feet of water. 

“So think about that as just a huge reservoir of water and it’s just waiting to melt and runoff,” said Corey Cram, associate general manager of project development at the Washington County Water Conservancy District. 

Cram said that as of now, snow is melting and coming down to the area’s river system very slowly; however, Cram said that could quickly change. 

Officials said they’re closely monitoring snowpack from Cedar and Kolob Mountains, as increasing temperatures pose a great risk for flash floods in coming weeks. 

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