Little Cottonwood Canyon reopens after mudslide; search continues for woman swept away by Weber River

The mudslide swept across State Route 210 in Little Cottonwood Canyon on Tuesday.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) High water flow jumps the banks of the Weber River, pictured below, near Farmington Bay as it floods adjacent farmland on Tuesday, May 2, 2023.

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Utah’s high temperatures over the last few days have accelerated snowmelt and fueled flood risk, with flood warnings and watches still in effect across much of the state.

But temperatures are expected to dip soon, which may provide relief, according to the National Weather Service.

Highs will be in the low 70s on Thursday, then drop into the 60s — even the upper 50s in some areas — beginning Friday and continuing through the middle of next week. And there’s a chance of rain every day through Tuesday.

In the meantime, flooding issues persist across Utah.

Family IDs missing woman swept away in Weber County

(Family photo) Crews continue to search for Libby Stimpson, 28, who was carried away by the rushing waters of the Weber River on Monday, May 1, 2023.

Authorities on Wednesday continued to search for a woman who fell into the Weber River near Uintah on Monday and was swept away.

Family members have identified her as Libby Stimpson, 28. They said Stimpson was walking her dogs along the river on her family farm at about 5:30 p.m. Monday when she somehow fell in.

Multiple witnesses reported hearing Stimpson scream and seeing the water carry her away, officials said. But the family’s first indication that something was amiss was when Stimpson’s dogs returned home wet and alone, her sister, Laura Trumbo, said.

“That’s how they figured out something had happened in the river,” she said. The dogs were unharmed, but by late Monday, officials considered the search for Stimpson a recovery mission.

Trumbo said her sister walked her dogs “every single day,” letting them run along the family property to “get their energy out.”

”She loved those dogs,” she said. “They were her children, basically.”

Stimpson’s family wants people to know who crews are searching for, Trumbo said. “And we want to express our family’s deep appreciation for the search-and-rescue teams that have been risking their own safety to try to find her.”

Little Cottonwood Canyon reopens after mudslide

(UDOT) A large mudslide crossed 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.

Crews early Wednesday worked to clear a large mudslide that covered State Road 210 about halfway up Little Cottonwood Canyon on Tuesday afternoon.

The slide measured about 100 feet wide and 4 feet deep, according to the Utah Department of Transportation. At the time, the canyon was already closed to traffic because of elevated avalanche risk, so no crashes or injuries were reported.

The roadway reopened Wednesday afternoon after crews work to clear debris, with spotters and signals present to stop traffic if need be until 6 p.m.

After that, the roadway remained open, but UDOT advised people to travel at their own risk and be aware of “inherent road hazards” in the canyon.

(UDOT) Crews work to clear debris early Wednesday from a large mudslide that swept across State Road 210 in Little Cottonwood Canyon on Tuesday, May 2, 2023.

Salt Lake City still monitoring Emigration Creek

In Salt Lake City, officials continue to monitor Emigration Creek, which was expected to exceed its flood stage (130 cubic feet per second) late Wednesday and peak at about 160 cfs on Thursday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Minor flooding along the creek is possible late Wednesday into Thursday morning. However, Salt Lake City officials have said the flood-control system has the capacity to handle the higher flows, unless debris clogs the system. 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.

Emigration Canyon saw some road and culvert damage overnight Tuesday, officials said. Salt Lake County Flood Control crews worked “all night” in the canyon to clear debris.

Sugar House Park, which serves as a flood detention basin, will remain closed to vehicles through at least May 14.

Spanish Fork declares emergency

(City of Spanish Fork) Spanish Fork Mayor Mike Mendenhall declared an emergency on Monday, May 1, 2023, as high and fast flows in the Spanish Fork river are expected this week.

Mayor Mike Mendenhall declared an emergency for Spanish Fork this week, noting that city officials are expecting high and fast flows in the Spanish Fork River.

“The runoff this week is going to test our river’s capacity,” Mendenhall said in a statement Monday. The declaration allows the city to access state resources reserved for such emergencies.

Mendenhall noted in a news release that the city has done “a lot of work” to prepare the river channel for snowmelt, adding that volunteers have filled thousands of sandbags to help protect homes and businesses.

But officials are concerned that debris could collect in the river and “create a dam,” which could clog the system and exacerbate flooding. Teams are working to mitigate debris, but in the meantime, residents should avoid river recreation and keep children and pets far from river banks, the city advised.

Hyrum Dam spillway on watch

(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 as operators are releasing a high volume of water to help manage the reservoir’s water level.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation continues to monitor 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.”

The dam was constructed in 1935 and 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” the bureau is prepared to “take immediate action” if necessary.

A flood watch remains is in effect through Friday morning for the area below the reservoir. Just south of Hyrum, moderate flooding along the Little Bear River near the town of Paradise is possible through Friday morning.

Garden City area still under flood warning

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 or flood-prone areas.

“Many low-water crossings are inundated with water and may not be passable,” the weather service advised.

Garden City’s mayor on Monday declared a state of emergency to prepare for flooding. 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

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) A saturated Ogden River floods adjacent areas near Ogden Canyon on Tuesday, May 2, 2023.

There is a “moderate” risk of flooding through Friday 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 its 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, the Sevier River is expected to peak near 4.4 feet — above its flood level of 3.9 feet — on Thursday morning. Water levels are expected to “oscillate” near flood level through Friday night, and drop over the weekend.

In southwestern Utah, Jason Bradley, Washington County’s emergency operations manager, said the only report of flooding early Wednesday occurred in Bloomington, where water from the Virgin River partially covered a bike path that runs parallel to the waterway.

”If you look at the Virgin River anywhere in [the St. George area], the water is raging,” Bradley said. “But so far, it is staying where it is supposed to.”

In the unlikely event that flooding becomes an issue, county workers have staged sandbags in strategic areas. St. George and other cities in the county also have sandbags available at municipal fire stations.

— Tribune staff writer Mark Eddington contributed to this report.