UTAH COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – As thunderstorms continue to roll through Utah County, ABC4 spoke with the Utah Division of Emergency Management to learn what you should and shouldn’t do these next few days.
The thunderstorm risk was upgraded to slight risk for most of Central and West Central Utah, according to Chief Meterologist Alana Brophey. This means scattered severe storms are possible and the biggest impacts to areas under this risk are strong winds, heavy rain, and hail.
Jona Whitesides, the Operations Bureau Chief said it is important to take some of the lessons we’ve learned during previous weather events to prevent the same damage from happening again.
“Much of the state of Utah is going to be under a flash flood warning effect, so that’s the flooding part, and along with that comes winds that can be gusting. We’ve seen windstorms here in Utah so it can be anywhere from maybe a few miles an hour and in some places it can get up to that hurricane-type force winds,” Whitesides said.
He said the reason burn scars are a threat to residents is because when you have a large amount of rain coming down in a short amount of time there’s nowhere for the water to go but down.
“Any communities or people who are near burn scars, so not just the fires this year but any the past couple of years, it’s good to be able to know what the city’s plan is. Those are things that the communities have come together and talked about post fires…but it’s a good idea to say ‘can I remember what that is?’ Whitesides said.
If you live near a burn scar or floodplain you should take anything valuable that you have in your basement and bring it up to a higher level since it is typically taking on the majority of the damage first.
“If you have your basement finished and that’s normally where people sleep, don’t have them sleep there tonight just to be safe. Another one is we have a saying ‘turn around don’t drown’ we like our trucks and SUVs here in Utah, but what we don’t realize is just a few inches of water can actually take a car down with its path,” Whitesides said.
If you drive in areas that have water coming down the roadway, Whitesides said it is better to turn around and not take any chances.
“With flash flooding, you can see debris flows. So if you’re in any of those slot areas and in any canyons, if you can avoid that trip today, probably just avoid it because again, you can see debris flows where you have rock and mud and other things coming down with the water,” Whitesides said.
He also said you should put out sandbags and make sure you have a plan in place in case of evacuations.
“Let’s talk worst-case scenario, ‘do I have the things I need to go?’ meaning do I have my identification, maybe like a disaster supply kit, do I have somewhere to go, do I know who I need to call who maybe doesn’t live in the area…so a friend or family member that I can call,” Whitesides said.
Aside from flooding concerns, the strong winds Utah County is seeing have the potential to lift up items and blow them away. Whitesides said homeowners should check their property for any items that aren’t secure. If you’re able to bring them indoors you’re encouraged to do so.
“If you have any lawn furniture put it away in your garage or shed, just anything that can be propelled in the air that can cause damage to either yourself, your property, or another property…you need to take a look at and take care of,” Whitesides said.
He said trampolines tend to be an item that can be lifted up by a small amount of wind force. Whitesides told ABC4 that the best thing you can do is flip your trampoline upside down and use ropes that are used to secure loads on trucks to hold it down.
When you see lightning, you should count the time that passes until you hear thunder. If that time is under thirty seconds that means the thunderstorm is close enough to be dangerous.
Utahns are encouraged to stay weather aware as these thunderstorms continue to roll through to prevent getting caught in a storm.