Wildfire burn scars pose flash flood risk amid monsoon season


IRON COUNTY, Utah (News4Utah) Flash flooding is a concern as we face monsoonal moisture. The risk around burn scar areas increases when heavy rain moves in.

Rocks the size of Volkswagens and mud up to five feet high. That was the debris flow that covered the road from the Brian Head burn scar Monday and storms aren’t stopping anytime soon.

“I’m so lucky I stopped when I did,” said Nicole Byl.

It’s a judgment call she made when rain pounded the canyon road from Parowan to Brian Head.

It only takes six inches of moving water for a car to lose control and 12 inches for it to float, but this flood included more than water. Mud, rocks, and debris covered a portion of the highway.

The Utah Department of Transportation closed a portion of Highway 143 to clean and clean the area Monday. Flash flooding brought debris through Parowan and all the way to the interstate last year causing a lane closure on I-15.

These thunderstorms can come on quickly. Crews rescued about half a dozen trapped drivers as well. UDOT worked to put in a few settling pounds at the bottom of the canyon to lessen the impact a strong flow.

If you’re caught in this situation, you should stay buckled up and never cross flood waters.

For five years following a fire, the area is prone to mudslides, so UDOT continuously monitors burn scars.

For more information on flash flood warnings, stay with Utah’s Most Accurate Forecast.  For traffic information including road closures due to debris flow, download the UDOT traffic app here.

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