The sandbags were ready. The rains came. The anticipated flooding did not.
"We survived," said Salt Lake County public works director Tosh Kano. "We dispatched a few sandbags to Big and Little Cottonwood canyons. A couple of areas along Mill Creek were blocked by debris, but we really did not have much of a problem."Spring's warmer temperatures mean it's time to start worrying about melting snowpacks and where all that water will go. Especially concerning to flood-control officials are Logan Canyon and Big and Little Cottonwood canyons with snowpacks larger than normal.
Before Thursday night's storm, Salt Lake County officials urged residents to sandbag areas along swollen creekbeds.
Warm overnight temperatures Wednesday, followed by Thursday's rain, pushed Little Cottonwood Creek near official "flood stage."
County crews sandbagged Little Cottonwood Creek near the mouth of the canyon and also on Siesta Drive (about 1200 East and 7100 South) Thursday.
The Jordan River was being watched closely south of Murray.
Mill Creek was close to flood stage before the storm, especially from 1300 East to 300 West. It overflowed its bed near 500 East because of debris, which blocked the flow and dammed the water temporarily.
Crews have a hard time getting to the creekbed because there are so many houses making it "very, very vulnerable," Kano said.
Streams more accessible were cleared of debris from to help the water flow more efficiently.
"We think we've done a real good job in preparation for the snowmelt," said Salt Lake County Commissioner Randy Horiuchi, noting upgrades to the flood-control system ensure State Street from turning into a river as it did in 1983.
The Wasatch Front received between one-half and one inch of rain during the storm, the first significant precipitation in almost a month.
National Weather Service meteorologist William Alder said there may still be a few, small showers in the forecast, but cooler temperatures should return next week.
And that is good news for Utahns who live near streams and creeks prone to flooding because it probably won't happen, unless it rains.
"The snowmelt flooding potential is relatively low. It's going to take a little more than snowmelt to get into the higher (flooding) potential. It all revolves around climatological features," said Randy Julander U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service snow-survey supervisor.
The threat of flooding varies throughout Utah. While Logan Canyon has only recently begun to melt and has a huge snowpack, Utah County and southern Utah are nearly dry.
Part of that can be attributed to less snow than last year as well as a warmer spring.
Logan Canyon has a "tremendous snowpack," more than 175 percent above average, that has just started to melt. The situation is similar to 1984 and 1986 when some houses in Logan Canyon were flooded, Julander said.
Big and Little Cottonwood canyons both have excellent snowpacks, Julander said. Snowbird has 45 inches of water, about 260 percent above average. Brighton has 18.6 inches, about 180 percent of average, a significant drop from last year when the area was 375 percent above average.
If it does flood, it will probably be "very short term transient kind of events, mostly induced by precipitation," Julander said.
Julander said the snowmelt has been good this year because it melted earlier and with warm - not hot - temperatures.
The snowpack in Utah County is nearly gone.
"It's gone, dusted and blown away . . . most areas saw over double snowmelt last week than we normally see. That effectively ended the snowmelt season," Julander said.
Snowpacks in southern Utah are also nearly melted. The Sevier River drainage basin are only 23 percent of normal. The Virgin, Escalante, Dirty Devila and Southeast Utah drainage basins are at zero percent.