SPRINGDALE, Utah -- Summer monsoons in southern Utah bring with them flash flood concerns, specifically in Zion National Park.
Park rangers say the temptation to get close is high, but so is the danger.
Over the weekend several flash floods ran through the park. One, captured on video by some hikers shows Pine Creek tripling its size in a matter of seconds, and proves just how dangerous flash floods can be.
“The river really came up,” said Aly Baltrus, spokeswoman for Zion National Park about. “It has since gone back down, but we’re expecting more rain tonight and throughout the week.
Park rangers monitor the forecasts, and put out flash flood warnings for each area, but hikers still need to be aware because conditions in one area of the park could be misleading.
“We can get rain anywhere in the park, and it might not be over the top of you,” Baltrus said. “But the river might rise suddenly. People really need to be careful, they need to pay attention.”
Baltrus said the real danger is that many people mistakenly believe they can outrun a flash flood, but conditions can change in a matter of seconds. And as recorded videos prove, it can be difficult to get to high ground fast enough.
“Some of the video coverage that we’ve seen looks really cool,” Baltrus said. “But those people were putting themselves in danger.”
The danger doesn’t stop at the water -- it’s also what the water brings.
Sticks, logs, even rocks can flow downstream. Hikers on the trail Monday say they recognize the risk, and always plan to be on high ground when the rain falls.
Cedar City resident Colter Boyes said he always checks flash flood potential ratings before hitting the trails.
“I know if there’s going to be anything to worry about like that,” Boyes said. “If there is, generally avoid the river areas, the lower basins, just to be safe.”
Flash flood potential ratings are put out daily by the National Weather Service. They can be found on their website, here: http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/forecasts/display_special_product_versions.php?sid=slc&pil=RRA