MURRAY, Utah (ABC4) — As temperatures continue to rise, Utah is experiencing a significant melting of its record-breaking snowpack, with statewide snow water equivalent now sitting just above 12 inches.
Despite a decrease from the peak of 30 inches in early April, up to 60 inches of water still remains at higher elevations, meaning that streams and creeks will continue to rise with warm temperatures.
In the Salt Lake Valley, hydrologists are monitoring streams and creeks to determine which areas are most at risk. The City of Holladay has declared a state of emergency in preparation for spring run-off flooding, while homeowners and communities are also taking steps to protect their properties.
One such community is the Willowbrook Condominiums in Murray, which has experienced flooding in the past after Little Cottonwood Creek overflowed. Resident Matt Thurber stated that this winter has been the biggest ever, with flashbacks of 1983. In response, the community has come together to sandbag the creek running through the condominiums and prepare with sump pumps and other measures.
Hydrologist Glen Merrill from the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City explained that with almost 64 inches of snow water equivalent still at Snowbird’s SNOTEL station, peak melt rates are typically between an inch and a half to two inches a day out of that snowpack. This is what is causing the elevation of river flows, with over 60 inches left to melt down, meaning that there could be 30 or more days left of melting snow.
Salt Lake County is actively working to stay on top of potential hazard areas.
Division Chief of Unified Fire Authority and Salt Lake City Emergency Management Director Clint Mecham said that they are monitoring City Creek, Mill Creek, and Neff’s Creek closely. They are clearing any debris from the creeks and ensuring that chokepoints do not have blockages to allow for the maximum amount of flow possible.
As warmer temperatures persist, the forecast calls for a significant increase in Little Cottonwood Creek and Big Cottonwood Creek as early as this upcoming weekend. The most critical takeaway from this situation is to stay away from the rising water until the levels go down.