'High, fast and cold’: Weather service issues a flood watch for Little Cottonwood Creek

(Rick Bowmer | AP Photo) This Monday, June 10, 2019, photo shows the Big Cottonwood Creek, in the Big Cottonwood canyon, near Salt Lake City. The summer's melting snowpack is creating raging rivers that are running high, fast and icy cold. The state's snowpack this winter was about 150 percent higher than the historical average and double the previous year, which was the driest on record dating back to 1874, said Brian McInerney, hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City. Large parts of the Salt Lake City metro area sits near the foothills of the towering Wasatch Range.

The creek that runs out of Little Cottonwood Canyon is under flood watch through Thursday afternoon with meteorologists warning that the water is “high, fast and cold.”

“The warm temperatures that we’ve been getting have increased the snow melt and pushed the flow up to near flood stage,” said David Bonnette with the National Weather Service. “The whole creek will be up to the banks.”

Because of the warm temperatures over the past few days in Salt Lake County, the snow in the canyon is melting quickly and filling Little Cottonwood Creek. The watch issued says: “Damage is possible in valley areas adjacent to the creek.”

Bonnette said there are not a lot of houses at risk, but that people should stay away from the banks of the creek which could possibly erode. He warns residents to stay out of the water — and to watch their dogs and children nearby who could be at risk of drowning in the dangerous conditions in an area that’s popular to hike.

“It’s definitely not a good place to be,” he added. “Just take caution.”

The water levels will peak midday Thursday and should lower after that as a cool storm system moves in — slowing how much melting snow runs into the creek.

There is also a warning for the Duchesne River in central Utah from the town of Hanna to the town of Myton. It will remain in flood stage through early next week.