Severe thunderstorm pounds Salt Lake City, floods downtown

In southern Utah, rain and hail are once again wreaking havoc in Cedar City.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) East High student Jack Atkinson, 15, who is starting 10th grade this fall, checks out the flooding at his school after a torrential downpour on Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021.

From Cedar City to Bountiful, heavy rain and large hail flooded streets, shut down parts of Interstate 15, and brought a deluge Sunday to Salt Lake City and much of Utah.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for parts of Davis County east of Bountiful until 11 p.m. In Tooele, there were reports of a flooded Main Street. And in Salt Lake County, officials warned drivers to avoid flooded streets as torrential rain, severe thunderstorms and gusting winds up to 50 mph pounded the Salt Lake Valley and surrounding areas Sunday evening.

Rainwater also swamped the front of Salt Lake City’s East High School.

[Related: See videos of the rainstorm that transformed Salt Lake City’s streets into rivers.]

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Jessica Miller checks out East High, severely flooded following a torrential downpour on Sunday, August 1, 2021.

The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Salt Lake City, Bountiful, Farmington, Layton and Clearfield.

“Heavy rain is flooding portions of the Greater Salt Lake Valley this evening ... around an inch or higher have fallen already and it continues to rain at this hour,” the Weather Service said about 7:45 p.m.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Debris lines the road along 2100 South in Sugar House after torrential rains on Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021.

In Utah County, the Utah Department of Transportation reported, three northbound lanes of Interstate 15 near University Parkway in Orem were closed around 9 p.m. Sunday because of flooding. Flooding also shut down on-ramp to I-15 at 1100 North in Davis County, UDOT noted.

An urban and small stream advisory was put into effect through 10:45 p.m. Sunday.

“When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!” the weather service tweeted earlier. “No place outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area. Head inside immediately!”

Across northern Utah, weather problems were reported from Tooele County — which saw some overloaded storm drains, according to FOX 13 — through the Salt Lake Valley to Big Cottonwood Canyon, which UDOT closed because of road conditions.

Tooele County officials said 34 houses, three city facilities, four businesses and six schools reported water damage after flash flooding began around 6:30 p.m. The county also closed three canyons — Settlement, Middle and Soldier — due to heavy amounts of debris in the road.

Salt Lake City residents posted video on Twitter of flooded intersections along 300 South in downtown Salt Lake City. Jim Steenburgh, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Utah and an expert on mountain climate, tweeted a video of pea-size hail falling in the Avenues.

The University of Utah recorded 1.5 inches of precipitation as of 9 p.m., the weather service reported. Tooele had 1.13 inches.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Flooding in Salt Lake City caused debris to cover the road at 100 South and 1300 East and stranded a car after heavy rains, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021.

Earlier in the day, hail and heavy rain once again spawned flooding in southern Utah. In Cedar City and Enoch, streets and homes were flooded. Officials in Enoch said approximately 200 homes were impacted by flooding and a state of emergency had been declared.

The Utah Highway Patrol said I-15 was shut down for a time both directions about 2 miles north of the Cedar City Main Street exit due to water on the highway.

Stopped on the interstate near Cedar City, Dane Harrington, of Salt Lake City, caught a startling moment on camera as floodwaters along the frontage road swept away an SUV and trailer, pinning it against a fence, before its driver was able to escape to higher ground.

“He was able to crawl out of the back, and a few people jumped out and pulled him into a car,” Harrington said. “A few minutes later the car was completely submerged. It was pretty scary stuff.”

Much of the state was under a weather advisory Sunday, with storms in the forecast through the evening.

A flash flood watch was issued for much of central and southwestern Utah, where thunderstorms “capable of producing torrential rainfall” were expected. Burn scars, slot canyons, creek beds, dry washes, and urban areas were the most prone to potential flash floods, the weather service said.

The flash flood watch included the Wasatch Mountains south of Interstate 80, Utah County, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Glen Canyon and Lake Powell, western Canyonlands, lower Washington County and Zion National Park.

It was more pain for Cedar City, whose residents experienced some of the worst flooding in the state last week. The Cedar City mayor declared a state of emergency Monday after a storm dropped more than 2 inches of rain in about an hour, causing flooding and forcing residents to begin sandbagging parts of the city.

Those showers and thunderstorms in northern Utah were expected to linger through Monday, before drier air moves in Tuesday.

Editor’s note The Salt Lake Tribune and FOX 13 are content-sharing partners.