WASHINGTON COUNTY (ABC4 News) – Severe thunderstorms producing heavy rain and hail in Southern Utah Monday night caused flooding on many city streets and slot canyons in the area.
Washington County park officials said many reservoirs and rivers have reached capacity and hiking trails have closed. They urged hikers to be mindful of fast-moving water and potential rockfalls.
The Virgin River, Santa Clara River, and Gunlock Reservoir are now at capacity, according to park officials.
Zion National Park spokeswoman Aly Baltrus said many trails have closed already from storm damage and rockfalls, such as Kayenta Trail, Upper Emerald Pools Trail, and Hidden Canyon.
The Virgin River is closed going into the Narrows trail, and Baltrus recommended hikers stay far from it.
“It doesn’t take but a few seconds to literally pull somebody in,” Baltrus said.”We’ve had people in the past that have drowned in the Virgin River during flood stage.”
Gunlock State Park officials raised similar concerns Tuesday, as rising temperatures have started to melt snowpack off of Pine Valley mountains, flowing into the Santa Clara River, the biggest water source at the reservoir.
“Water is one of the most powerful things out there, and it can really sweep you away when you think you’re on stable ground,” Gunlock State Park manager Jon Allred said. “It can take you and it won’t let you up.”
The reservoir has reached and maintained capacity for nearly two months now, and additional rain and snowmelt increased the flow over the waterfalls, attracting residents and tourists to the area.