Salt Lake City eyes Emigration Creek as flood warnings, watches persist

A woman was reportedly swept away by the raging Weber River on Monday.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) A mudslide blocks a lane of traffic in Emigration Canyon on Wednesday, April 12, 2023. This week, officials are again keeping a close eye on Emigration Creek, which is expected to exceed flood stage late Tuesday and Wednesday.

Editor’s note • An update to this story can be found here.

Flood warnings and watches remain in effect throughout much of Utah this week, although there is an end in sight to the immediate danger.

After high temperatures hovered in the 80s on Saturday through Tuesday — with highs of about 80 again forecast in Salt Lake City on Wednesday — temperatures will tumble, according to the National Weather Service. The Salt Lake City area can expect highs in the low 70s on Thursday and the low to mid-60s Friday through Wednesday.

That drop in temperatures should slow the melting of Utah’s record winter snowpack, which is currently fueling flood risk. Normal temperatures for this time of year are in the mid- to upper 60s.

In the meantime, flooding issues continue to plague the Beehive State.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Spring weather begins to take hold as people enjoy the flowering cherry blossoms at the Utah Capitol on Wednesday, April 26, 2023; meanwhile, a watchful eye is kept on the record breaking snowpack in the mountains above for any signs of flooding.

Woman swept away in Weber County

In Weber County on Tuesday, rescue crews continued to search for a woman who was carried away by the rushing Weber River near Uintah on Monday evening. According to Weber Fire District officials, a woman was heard screaming as witnesses saw her caught up in the fast-flowing waters.

The woman is believed to be in her 20s. As of late Monday, the ongoing search along the river became a recovery mission.

Salt Lake City eyes Emigration Creek

In Salt Lake City, officials are keeping an eye on Emigration Creek, which is expected to exceed flood stage late Tuesday and Wednesday.

Emigration Creek peaked overnight Monday, but the flow was lower than anticipated, Salt Lake City Public Utilities Department Director Laura Briefer told City Council members Tuesday afternoon. A flood warning remains in effect for the creek through Thursday morning.

The flood-control system has the capacity to handle peak flows, which are currently forecast near 160 cubic feet per second (cfs). But Briefer said teams will be working around the clock to ensure no blockages in culverts or storm drains cause any issues. In mid-April — when a clog in the system sent water spilling down the roadway near Wasatch Hollow Park — flows on the creek peaked at 155 cfs.

If flooding occurs, officials expect it to be minor and limited to roadways. To report issues or concerns about the condition of Emigration Creek, call the Salt Lake City Public Utilities Department’s 24-hour dispatch line at 801-483-6700.

“After Emigration Creek does its thing this week,” Briefer said, “we are also looking at Parleys Creek and City Creek very carefully, and making sure that the debris basins above Memory Grove are well maintained.”

City Creek’s flow was just starting to pick up, she said. But the expected cooling-off period this weekend seemed ideal for runoff.

Briefer noted that the Jordan River is not expected to pose a concern in the coming days because there is capacity in both the river and Surplus Canal.

Mudslide in Little Cottonwood Canyon

(UDOT) A large mudslide swept across State Road 210 in Little Cottonwood Canyon on Tuesday, May 2, 2023. The roadway was already closed because of elevated avalanche risk at the time of the mudslide.

A large mudslide swept across State Road 210 about halfway up Little Cottonwood Canyon on Tuesday afternoon, pushing thick sludge across the roadway.

At the time, the roadway was already shut down because of elevated avalanche risk. As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, the Utah Department of Transportation had no estimate as to when it may reopen.

Earlier on Tuesday, State Road 190 was closed in Big Cottonwood Canyon amid avalanche mitigation work. The roadway had reopened by about 3 p.m.

East of Provo, a 30-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 89 through Spanish Fork Canyon was shut down overnight Monday because of flooding. By late Tuesday morning, the section of roadway — which stretched from the intersection of U.S. Highway 6 near Thistle to Mount Pleasant — was reopened, but it is possible it could close again, officials advised.

Sugar House Park closed to cars for at least 2 weeks

Sugar House Park will be closed to vehicles through at least May 14. The park is designed as a detention basin, and the area around the park’s pond remains flooded by controlled releases from Mountain Dell and Little Dell reservoirs.

There was also flooding Tuesday in Parleys Nature Preserve and Hidden Hollow, both of which are also designed as detention basins.

Officials monitor Hyrum Dam spillway

(U.S. Bureau of Reclamation) Water exits Hyrum Reservoir through the Hyrum Dam spillway southwest of Logan. The Bureau of Reclamation is conducting around-the-clock monitoring of the spillway.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is monitoring the spillway at Hyrum Dam — on the Little Bear River, about 9 miles southwest of Logan — around the clock as operators release “a high volume of water” to help manage Hyrum Reservoir’s water level as warm temperatures “have significantly increased snowmelt and runoff into the reservoir.”

A flood watch remains is in effect through Friday morning for the area below the reservoir.

”The spillway has served us well for 90 years,” said the bureau’s regional director, Wayne Pullan, “but because of its age and because it lacks the features of a modern spillway — and out of an abundance of caution — Reclamation has worked quickly to stage heavy equipment and riprap material near the spillway, in case we need to take immediate action.”

In Paradise, which is just south of Hyrum, a flood warning is in effect for the Little Bear River.

Hyrum Dam was constructed in 1935 and provides storage for irrigation and municipal use.

Garden City flood warning remains in effect

A flood warning remains in effect for the Garden City area of Rich County until 3 p.m. Thursday as snowmelt affects rivers, creeks, streams and other low-lying areas.

Garden City’s mayor on Monday declared a state of emergency to help better prepare for flooding and flood mitigation. He encouraged all homeowners to check on their properties, noting that about 80% of houses there are vacation homes or short-term rentals.

Other flood risk across Utah

Farther south, a flood warning along the lower Weber River in Plain City was canceled Tuesday, after an updated forecast called for the river to remain below flood stage, which is 27 feet.

But the weather service warned that flows in the “action range” — between 25-27 feet — will continue into next week. A flood watch in the area remains in effect until Friday evening.

Near Huntsville, there is a “moderate” risk of flooding through Thursday along the south fork of the Ogden River. The river is expected to peak at about 5.3 feet/1,500 cfs on Friday morning, above the flood stage of 4.6 feet/992 cfs. Flows will decrease into the weekend.

In southern Utah, near the town of Hatch in Garfield County, there is a flood warning in effect for the Sevier River. The river is expected to “oscillate” around flood level — 3.9 feet — through Friday morning. Water levels are expected to drop over the weekend.

— Salt Lake Tribune staff writer Blake Apgar contributed to this report.