SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — In the next few weeks, officials are releasing information on what to expect as record-high temperatures melt the hundreds of inches of snow Utah received this past winter season.
While officials are reminding the public to anticipate and prepare for flooding, it appears Utah is in better condition now than it was 40 years, when a river flooded Salt Lake City’s State Street after a year of heavy snowfall. This year Utah exceeded previous snowpack levels, and while floods are likely coming, history is not expected to repeat to the same extent.
Flood risks and closures
In the next few weeks, the Utah Department of Transportation is anticipating “potential prolonged road closures” of SR-190 and SR-210. This is due to the deep snowpack and rising temperatures causing “unpredictable spring wet avalanche hazard conditions,” the department said.
In Salt Lake County, City Creek, Emigration Creek, Red Butte Creek, and Parleys Creek are expected to have higher water flows. In Northern Utah, Weber County officials are anticipating flooding along the Weber River starting at the end of this week. The areas most affected will likely be west of 1900.
To stay up to date with the closures and flood watches, keep an eye on Utah’s Most Accurate Forecast.
How officials are preparing
Salt Lake and Weber County are preparing for melting conditions through a number of efforts, including placing sandbags in potential flooding areas. And for Salt Lake County residents, experts have good news.
Officials believe Salt Lake City’s infrastructure will have enough capacity to accommodate the rising stream flows over the next week, according to Director of Public Utilities Laura Briefer. The city has also been conducting controlled releases of water from reservoirs “to reduce runoff pressure within the city,” a press release said.
How you can prepare
While officials are mitigating overall flood risks, residents also need to be engaged in protecting people and property during this time.
1. Be cautious around rivers and streams
For safety reasons, Salt Lake City Fire officials are reminding the public not to go in streams or rivers during this spring season and to be “extra vigilant” around them. Streams and rivers are dangerous at this time due to fast, deep, and cold water conditions. Officials say you should be particularly careful with children and pets near water.
2. Prepare for possible evacuation with the ‘Five Ps’
The Red Cross of Utah is telling the public to make a personal list ahead of time of the five P’s of evacuation: people, prescriptions, papers, personal, and priceless.
In case of a quick evacuation, authorities say you should have a family emergency plan, including deciding on an emergency contact in a different county or state as a backup if family members are separated.
The Red Cross says to include a list of necessary prescriptions, important personal items including clothes and phone chargers, and priceless photos or items that would be devastating to lose. In the case of an evacuation, residents can use the list to gather the items quickly and safely.
If possible, include backup medications in the emergency kit and keep important papers, such as insurance cards, birth certificates, passports, and wills in an easy-to-access location.
3. Know the resources and information available
In addition, residents should be familiar with where the flooding areas are located nearby. In order to protect property, homeowners in all areas should have flood insurance as standard homeowner’s insurance does not cover flooding. According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, 25% of all flooding claims come from homes outside of flood-risk areas.
Officials are asking all residents to report flooding, backed-up streams, and clogged grates to city officials.
To report floods and clogs call the dispatch number for your city or look up your city’s website online for more information. For Salt Lake City residents, call 801-483-6700.
Many cities are offering sandbags to residents in need, here is a list of how to request sandbags in your city.