HURRICANE, Utah (ABC4) – It could be a sunny day like today, but a flash flood still has potential to hit where rain could be falling in the mountains.
It’s areas like slot canyons, the back country, and river bottoms that can be danger zones, even fatal during flash floods, according to Sergeant Darrell Cashin of Washington County Search and Rescue.
“Not just the depth, it’s the force of that water, if you’re just trying to walk across it, as little as six inches will take you off your feet and it will sweep you wherever it’s going,” says Cashin.
Just two weeks ago, Southern Utah first responders were called after storms rushed through Zion National Park and Springdale, causing extensive damage.
“A foot of water moving fast can move your vehicle, it will actually push it sideways and as it builds up on the upper side, it will just sweep it down the river,” he says.
Cashin looks back on the floods that claimed 20 lives in Hilldale and Zion National Park in 2015.
“There were 13 people that did not survive the Hilldale flood, basically their vehicles got swept off the road, the water came in behind them, and just took the vehicles and swept them down the river. And the people that were working in the slot canyon and recreating up there, seven of them got swept away in Zion,” he says.
Cashin says you should stay away from any flooding water, as it’s usually filled with debris, and definitely don’t try crossing them with your vehicle.
“Most of the flash floods we have down here are extremely violent but relatively short duration, so a few hours, find yourself some high ground if you’re stuck stay there as long as you’re safe,” says Cashin.
He says even during a flash flood advisory, you should avoid all slot canyons and if you’re recreating stay on top of a plateau.
He adds if you live in a flood area, you should keep a safety bag with supplies for at least 72 hours.