WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) — Officials have closed multiple roads in southern Utah as floodwater rises to dangerous levels.

Gunlock Road has been closed from Old Highway 91 to the Gunlock Reservoir until further notice, according to Washington County Emergency Services. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is forecasting moderate flooding at the Virgin River Trail in St. George through 2 p.m. Thursday, March 16.

There have also been multiple reports of flooding at Snow Canyon State Park Wednesday evening. In fact, Washington County Search and Rescue crews were dispatched to the Park after a family of five from Florida was trapped by floodwaters during their hike. They are now safe and sound.

In addition to the Flash Flood Warning in southwest Washington County, the Flood Watch in and around Zion National Park has been upgraded to a Flood Warning. The Hilldale and Colorado City area is also under a Flood Warning until 10:30 a.m. on Thursday. According to the National Weather Service, small streams and slot canyons will flood due to excessive rainfall in the area.

Speaking of Old Highway 91, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office shared pictures of the road near Ash Creek Reservoir before and after floodwater had risen, leading officials to close it down:

“We’ve been through this before and it’s going to be okay,” said officials at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. “Here is a friendly reminder: As the rains continue to come down, there are some roads that may flood over. Do not cross flooded roads. They may be deeper than you realize and sometime the current may be strong enough to wash your car away, with you in it.”

South of the reservoir in the city of Toquerville, the Ash Creek river is now running hard and fast with currents strong enough to sweep a person away, officials said. Residents are warned against traveling near the river.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office shared a video showing the water levels at the Ash Creek river this morning.

Washington County officials share the following tips on how to be prepared for floods:

  • Follow common preparedness guidelines such as preparing 72-hour kits, emergency medication supplies, a family evacuation plan and out-of-area contact.
  • Clean out blockage & debris from gutters, drains, ditches and waterways on your property.
  • Acquire appropriate supplies to protect your home and property such as sandbags.
  • Stay informed:
    • by listening to NOAA Weather Radio, TV, and social media,
    • register with your local alerting system or 911register
    • text WCFLOOD to 888777 for current emergency information and instructions regarding flooding

In a rare occurrence, waterfalls at Gunlock State Park have reportedly started flowing again Wednesday morning. The waterfalls were stopped in 2020 and didn’t flow in 2021 either because of low water levels and snowpack. 

Park officials warn visitors of debris that have accumulated near the top of the waterfalls due to high amounts of runoff. According to the National Water and Climate Center, the snowpack in southwestern Utah is 227% of the average snow water equivalent.

Flowing waterfalls at Gunlock. Courtesy of Gunlock State Park

There were reportedly some concerns that the Baker Reservoir and Gunlock Reservoir may spill over due to prolonged wet weather in the area. WCSO officials said the Baker Reservoir has a designated spillway to contain overflowing water and that they will continue to monitor both reservoirs as the day goes on.

The remainder of Washington County has a Flood Advisory that is set to last until Thursday afternoon as snowmelt and excessive rainfall result in elevated river levels, particularly along Santa Clara River between Gunlock Reservoir and St. George.