Divers were to probe in 65-foot-deep water Tuesday for possible victims of a boat-sinking Sunday at Lone Rock Beach on Wahweap Bay, Lake Powell.
John Benjamin, a National Park Service district ranger at Wahweap, said the boat, observed sinking about 11 a.m. Sunday, has been located by sonar. But he said rangers, plagued by a storm that hit the area during the Memorial Day weekend, hadn't made dives as of 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.The place where the boat sank is about four miles from Wahweap Marina. Four other boats also sank during the weekend.
"We have made clearances on all missing or overdue persons. No one else has been missing or reported overdue. However, we are worried that that might change," Benjamin said.
Benjamin said rangers received a report from other boaters that the craft, believed to be an 18-foot runabout, had sunk. Two witnesses to the sinking were about 200 yards away on the beach.
Six-foot waves were common when the boat apparently sank at the height of the storm.
"We are about 90 percent certain a boat is down there, but we have no evidence at this time that anyone was on the boat. No one has reported a missing boat. We think there is a good chance that it was just blown off the beach at Lone Rock and that no one was on board. We are hoping today that we will have time to dive to that boat, hopefully get numbers and identify its owner," Benjamin said.
Benjamin said the weekend storm was one of the worst to hit Lake Powell in recent years. The storm hit right in the middle of the highest visitor weekend of the season.
Park rangers were still trying to track down information Tuesday on the report of a child who reportedly fell off a houseboat at Hall's Crossing. The youngster was apparently under water about five minutes but regained consciousness and was reported to have been airlifted to a hospital. But officials at Salt Lake area hospitals said they had no report on the youngster.
The weekend visitor count at Wahweap alone was about 25,000 people, he said. About 18,000 people visited Bullfrog Marina during the weekend.
Although there are no known weather-related fatalities from the storm at Lake Powell, Benjamin said "we had many minor injuries from boat sinkings and people injured from flying debris. We treated more than 80 people for hypothermia," Benjamin said.
Four were taken to a Page hospital for treatment of hypothermia.
Park rangers and others were still busily involved Tuesday in treating people for heart attacks and other problems.
"We are still checking for people who may be stranded on the lake," Benjamin said.
Benjamin said the temperature was 91 degrees about 9 a.m. Sunday but dropped to 65 degrees within about an hour as the storm front passed through the area. A low of 42 degrees was recorded Sunday and Monday nights.
"People came here totally unprepared for those kinds of (temperature) ranges. We had folks really suffering from the cold even during daylight hours," Benjamin said.
While wild weather conditions hit Lake Powell recreation areas over the weekend, conditions were beautiful and calm at the lake on Tuesday. The temperature was expected to climb to about 90 degrees Tuesday. Winds were calm and skies clear at mid-morning.
Benjamin said the storm caused at least $500,000 damage to boats, with two having sunk in about 500 feet of water. They are probably not salvageable, he said.
Mike Conger, lead forecaster Tuesday at the National Weather Service, Salt Lake International Airport, said the largest amounts of moisture from the weekend storm were in areas north of Salt Lake City.
Clearfield received 4 inches of pea-sized hail, which fell Monday morning. The area along U.S. 89, the mountain road that runs from just north of Cherry Hill campground to about Hill Air Force base, received large amounts of hail, which slowed traffic and caused other problems.
Conger said Centerville received a record amount of precipitation, 1.17 inches, from the storm. Washington Terrace received 1.10; Richfield, 1.04; Brigham City, .81; Hill Air Force Base, .62; and Ogden, .82.