Warm weather, melting snow will create ‘extremely dangerous’ conditions in Utah

National Weather Service warns Utahns to stay away from waterways

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) High water levels in Salt Lake City's Sugar House Park on Wednesday, April 26, 2023.

Expect clear skies, warming temperatures and generally beautiful weather over the next few days — along with flooding as Utah’s record snowpack melts.

“Streams, creeks and rivers will experience significant rises moving forward into early next week,” warns the National Weather Service, “especially low and mid-elevation watersheds”

The snowmelt will create “extremely dangerous” conditions as the “waterways will be running high, fast, cold.” The weather service is warning people to stay a safe distance from rivers and streams to avoid the “risk of hypothermia and drowning with even brief periods of time in the water.”

The weather service is warning of possible flooding across most of Utah, from the Idaho border in the north to the Cedar City area in the south, from the Nevada border in the west to Green River in the east. There’s a flood advisory along eastern Utah. Only the southwestern part of the state is not in danger of flooding.

(National Weather Service) Temperatures will be about 15 degrees above normal in much of Utah over the next few days, accelerating the melting of the record snowpack.

In the Salt Lake City area, the forecast is for temperatures in the upper 60s on Friday; the mid- to upper 70s on Saturday; and the low to mid-80s Sunday-Wednesday. That’s about 15 degrees above normal for this time of year.

There’s no precipitation in the forecast through the middle of next week, but the higher temperatures will accelerate the snowmelt.

The Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities is keeping a close eye on the stream flows in City Creek, Emigration Creek, Red Butte Creek and Parleys Creek, but expressed confidence that flooding can be avoided.

“We anticipate that Salt Lake City’s system of streams and infrastructure will have the capacity to accommodate the forecasted stream flows over the next several days,” said Laura Briefer, director of Public Utilities. “Runoff experts from both the city and Salt Lake County will continue monitoring and cleaning the drainage system around the clock.”

Because the city will continue to release water from the Mountain Dell and Little Dell reservoirs to control the flow, flood retention ponds in the Parleys Nature Preserve, Sugar House Park and Hidden Hollow will overflow their regular banks.

Mayor Erin Mendenhall urged residents to report grates clogged by debris and creeks “backing up.” Residents can call 801-483-6700 to report flooding.

Temperatures are not expected to drop back to near normal — the high 60s — until Thursday,

The forecast for southern Utah is also for sunny, dry and warmer than normal. In the St. George area, temperatures are expected to be in the mid- to upper 80s on Friday and the low to mid-90s Saturday-Monday. Normal temperatures are about 80.