Officials monitor Emigration Creek ahead of evening peak

In Salt Lake City, officials are feeling confident after a large metal plate obstructing the creek was removed.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood advisory for Emigration Creek in Salt Lake City, which will remain in effect until 9 a.m. Wednesday.

The creek is expected to crest at about 125 cubic feet per second between 9 p.m. Monday and 4 a.m. Tuesday, according to the weather service. “Flood stage” is considered to begin at about 130 cfs. There is “high confidence” that the creek will reach “minor flood stage” on Monday night.

Temperatures reached the low 70s on Monday — about 10 degrees above normal for this time of year — melting more of this year’s record snowpack.

“Minor flood damage” is possible at homes and other structures along the creek, including Hogle Zoo. The zoo, which is monitoring the creek flow, was open as usual on Monday.

5:15 p.m. - Weber County flooding updates

One area of Weber County that has seen flooding is Fort Buenaventura, a historic park and popular camping and recreation area located just west of downtown Ogden. The Weber River runs directly through the area. Fort Buenaventura is also home to a popular disc golf course known as The Fort.

Because the river has flooded parts of the park, Cody Nebeker, owner of the Disctracted disc golf shop in Fort Buenaventura, has closed his doors.

In a Facebook post last week, he wrote that the park was going to flood, and his business was given an evacuation notice. By Thursday, water surrounded his business.

Nebeker said he was able to get his inventory out of the building before the flood, and, as of Monday, the water had hardly made it inside the building. By then, damage was minimal and the ground was dry around the building. Nebeker said he should be able to return eventually, so long as the floodwater stays at bay.

“[I] feel pretty lucky,” Nebeker told The Tribune. “It could have been worse.”

4:30 p.m. - Mountain snow forecast Tuesday; Salt Lake City flooding unlikely overnight

The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory Monday afternoon for the mountains in northern Utah. Forecasters expect snow showers — with heavy snow and/or slush — beginning early Tuesday and into the evening in Mantua, Logan Summit, Alta and Brighton.

While they predict 6-12 inches of snow in the mountains, they don’t predict any snow will fall in the valleys.

As of about 4:30 p.m. Monday, officials with Salt Lake City’s Department of Public Utilities were not anticipating flooding overnight — at Emigration or any of the other creeks that bring snowmelt into Salt Lake City, spokesperson Chloe Morroni said.

Morroni added that sandbags initially set up to divert water across 1700 South near Wasatch Hollow will remain there until after peak runoff “just as a precaution.”

12 p.m. - Obstruction removed from Wasatch Hollow

The director of Salt Lake City’s Department of Public Utilities said she was feeling “pretty confident” heading into an expected Emigration Creek peak Monday night — particularly because apparent vandalism in the detention basin in Wasatch Hollow has been fixed.

On Sunday, a large metal plate that was obstructing the county gates at the detention basin was “successfully removed,” said Laura Briefer, “so all three windows of that gate are now flowing freely.”

“I’ll tell you, a lot of burden got lifted from our shoulders when the fire department finally fixed that,” she said. “That really was the linchpin for the stream to run the course that it should run, rather than down city streets and threatening homes.”

The obstruction appears to have been vandalism, Briefer said. “There was evidence of human intrusion. There was graffiti on the walls, and it just seems incredibly unlikely that the force of water could have moved the metal plate into that position.”

The creek’s expected flows over the next three nights fall within the system’s capacity in Salt Lake City. “The one pinch point we have on the system is where Emigration Creek gets piped around Wilson (Avenue) and 1100 East,” Briefer said. “And the capacity of that part of the system is 181 cubic feet per second.”

The flow is expected to peak at about 125 cfs on Monday night, and about 140 cfs on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

“The other reason why I feel comfortable is we still have the mitigation channel in place across 1700 south,” Briefer said. “So if something did happen, we have the ready-made stream diversion to take water over the road if we need it.”

Teams will be monitoring Emigration Creek 24 hours a day over the next few days. City Creek and Red Butte Creek are also being monitored, but no flooding is expected there.

“Those creeks aren’t looking like they will peak this week, especially since today is the last warm day of the week and we’re expecting cooler weather the next few days,” Briefer said. “What we are doing for both City Creek and Red Butte Creek is just more preparation work.”

Sandbags are being placed near Red Butte Creek on 1500 East near Miller Park “just as a precaution,” she said, and crews are working to clear debris from City Creek.

11 a.m. - Preparing for Emigration Creek to rise

The mayor of Emigration Township is feeling cautiously optimistic heading into Monday night. Or, at least, somewhat more prepared than last week.

About 400 volunteers helped prepare sandbags over the weekend, Joe Smolka said. The township now has about 8,000 sandbags ready to be placed, in addition to about 10,000 that are “already in place throughout the canyon on multiple properties.”

And some of the sandbag walls that went up “really quickly” last week have been rebuilt. “So they’ll be better.”

As of Monday, flooding in the canyon has been relatively minor. “We’ve had six homes that I’m aware of that have been flooded to some extent — some of them are real minor, and some the entire basement has been flooded,” Smolka said.

“We’ve had 18-20 mudslides, most of them small,” he continued. “It’s hard to count, because they clean them up faster than I can get there. But we don’t quite know what’s going to happen.”

7 a.m. - Sugar House Park is open to vehicles

(Salt Lake County Parks & Recreation) A sign is shown in a flooded pond at Sugar House Park on Sunday, April 16, 2023.

Sugar House Park, which was temporarily closed to vehicles on Saturday when the pond overflowed its banks, was open as of Monday morning.

The streets reopened on Sunday, according to Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation Department, which tweeted that it will “temporarily close” the streets again if “water rises to dangerous levels.” The county will “try keep it open, in modified ways, as safety allows.”

The park is a detention basin that is “working as intended for flood control,” according to the department, and the water level rose there as designed.

Tuesday outlook:

Although there is “greater uncertainty” about what will happen Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, the weather service is forecasting a second Emigration Creek crest.

Temperatures will be about 20 degrees cooler on Tuesday, with highs in the low 50s, but there’s a chance of valley rain showers.

(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) The NOAA is forecasting peak flows above flood stage on Emigration Creek on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

A forecast hydrograph from the National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration predicts a peak flow of 140 cfs on the creek on Tuesday night/early Wednesday and a peak to 141 cfs on Wednesday night/early Thursday.

Emigration Creek crested at about 155 cfs last week, sending water flowing through neighborhood streets in the area near 1700 South and 1700 East last week after a grate apparently became blocked at Wasatch Hollow Park, exacerbating flooding.

— This is a developing story. Check back for updates.