Above-average snowpack creates greater risk of flooding in Wasatch County

Posted at 6:20 PM, Feb 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-08 20:20:59-05

WASATCH COUNTY – Officials in Utah say the above-average snowpack the state is seeing lately could mean a greater risk for floods.

“Utah snowpack is averaging about 160 percent above median,” said Brian McInerney, a Hydrologist with the National Weather Service.

McInerney said Utah has seen about one and a half times the snow we normally do. But in some places the snowpack is even more dramatic.

“When you look at the snowpack in the mountains just to the east of Provo, it’s up to about 180 percent of median,” McInerney said.

Lt. Jason Bradley, Heber City Emergency Manager, said the snowpack levels are cause for concern.

“With that kind of snowpack the potential is high that we could see flooding in Wasatch County, Heber, Midway,” he said.

Officials in Wasatch County are urging homeowners to be prepared. They say local vendors have agreed to stock some sandbag supplies. They say if there was a big flood, government sandbags and resources would have to go to protecting infrastructure rather than homes.

“Making sure that if they had adequate insurance, making sure that if they have been likely to be flooded in the past, they're in areas that are likely to be flooded, that they have some level of preparation on their own,” Bradley said of their recommendations to residents.

There are two concerns here, one is that the snow will melt leaving streams to run high, and the other is that if it rains on ice, that water is going to spread.

“The ground's frozen, so if we have a big rain event such as we've had the last couple of days, that rain can hit that ice, and just run everywhere and flood," said Mike Davis with Wasatch County. "And it's not necessarily streams or rivers that are flooding, but it’s just sheet flooding on ice, and we do see quite a bit of that."

Experts say flooding issues may spread to other areas of the state.

“If we continue and keep that percentage all the way through April and into May, I think all of Utah needs to be concerned about high water coming out of the mountains,” McInerney said.

For more information about flood resources in these areas, click the links below.

Wasatch County

Heber City

You can also visit the Wasatch County Sheriff's Office and Heber City PD Facebook pages