Flood Warnings Issued for 7 Utah Counties

May 31, 2011

Flood warnings are in effect for seven Utah counties as three rivers flow over their banks.

The National Weather Service says the Weber River and Lost Creek in northern Utah are flooding and the Sevier River in central Utah is expected to begin flooding midday May 31.

The warnings apply to the northern Utah counties of Weber, Davis, Morgan and Summit. In central Utah, Juab, Piute and Sevier counties are under flood warnings.

Forecasters say between one and two inches of rain have fallen throughout the state from the storm that began the night of May 27. More than a foot of snow has fallen in higher elevations.

Flooding has already swamped hundreds of acres of farm land in northern Utah but so far the water is not threatening populated areas.

Last week, officials in northern Utah prepared to deliberately breach a levee to ease pressure along the Weber River as it reaches flood levels. Workers planned to create hole in a levee at the Ogden Bay Refuge on the Weber River in northern Utah to help ease pressure on the structure by emptying water into the Great Salt Lake.

“We’re very concerned right now about businesses, farmland and homes along the Weber River and taking every step possible to minimize the potential damage,” said Weber County commissioner Kerry Gibson. “Farming is the livelihood for a lot of people in our county so if their homes aren’t damaged by the floods, their farmland could also be at risk.”

Officials with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said flooding the vast acreage of bird refuges near the lake has helped prevent property damage in past years and will hopefully help again this year.

Major flooding has become a worry at lower elevations in northern Utah, where snowpack is well above what it was during the massive floods of 1983 that caused $250 million in damage and wiped out crops, homes and businesses, and flooded downtown Salt Lake City.

Businesses and homes in Weber County were sandbagged on last week as water levels continued to rise largely due to runoff from melting snow in the mountains and continued rains.

“A lot of the reservoirs such as East Canyon and Pineview that feed into the rivers are near or at capacity, so as the weather warms we could face some potential problems if we don’t breach the levee,” said Weber County Emergency Management Director Lance Peterson. “Right now, we are just bracing for what will be coming with warmer weather in June.”

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