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As the drought worsens, Utah’s national parks could face more flash flooding

Capitol Reef National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Bryce Canyon National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Zion National Park could all see flash floods.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Salt Lake City Hall in the Salt Lake Valley, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. It's expected to be hot and dry over the Fourth of July weekend.

In the midst of a drought that covers the entire state, Utah is also facing the possibility of flash floods.

The National Weather Services is warning that scattered showers and thunderstorms are possible through Thursday evening — and that there’s potential for flash flooding in slot canyons, small streams and normally dry washes. They say to be on the lookout for debris flows near recent burn scars.

(National Weather Service) There could be some flash flooding in Utah on Thursday and Friday.

According to the NWS, flash floods are “probable” on Thursday in Capitol Reef National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the San Rafael Swell, and “possible” in Bryce Canyon National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Zion National Park. On Friday, flash floods are “possible” in Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and the San Rafael Swell.

Ironically, the warning comes as the U.S. Drought Monitor released a summary of the drought in Utah that shows that 100% of the state is in at least a “moderate drought”; 99.94% of the state is in a “severe drought”; 98.05% is in “extreme drought”; and 65.23% is in “exceptional drought.”

(U.S. Drought Monitor) The entire state of Utah is suffering from drought.

(U.S. Drought Monitor) Almost all of Utah is in an extreme drought, and two-thirds of the state is in an exceptional drought,

And, while isolated showers and thunderstorms are expected to continue Friday afternoon and evening — with a “small threat” of flash floods, according to the NWS — there’s little chance of the kind of rain that would help with the drought. In Salt Lake City, there’s a 30 percent chance of rain Thursday afternoon; 20 percent Thursday evening; and 20% Friday afternoon, then no precipitation in the forecast through Wednesday.

Temperatures are expected to remain below 100 through the Fourth of July weekend, but not by much. The National Weather Service is forecasting 90 on Thursday, 93 on Friday, 96 on Saturday, and 97 on Sunday and Monday.

In St. George, there’s no rain in the forecast and temperatures are expected to be in the triple digits through the weekend — 100 on Thursday, 106 on Friday and Saturday, 103 on Sunday, and 107 on Monday.

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