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October poised to go out like a wet lion

One of the wettest fall storms to ever drench Utah should wind down later today. However, a chance of more moisture will return Saturday night in Salt Lake City as the month of October is poised to depart in a cool, wet pattern.

According to Pete Wilensky, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service's Salt Lake office, this single storm, which began Sunday night, is very unusual because it wasn't localized.

The Salt Lake International Airport received a record 1.12 inches of moisture Wednesday, the fourth-wettest day ever there during the month of October. Provo was soaked by 2.11 inches of water, and the Sandy southeast bench had 2.99 inches of moisture. Tooele, Coalville, Bryce Canyon, Park City, Coalville, Wendover and Zion National Park also set moisture records for the day.

But it was Washington County that fared the worst in the storm.

"We've got skirmishes going on all over the place," said Dean Cox, emergency services director for Washington County. "It's been a phenomenal storm. Of course, it would be nice if we could get the rain just the way we want it, but this storm is bringing us more good than bad."

A few homes in the small town of Brookside were evacuated overnight after water flowed into Baker Reservoir so rapidly it caught some people by surprise.

"We had someone watching it, and the water level went up about 15 vertical feet in six hours," Cox said. "That's really quite fast. The water was close to going over the spillway, so we went up and knocked on doors about 2 a.m. to warn people."

Gunlock Reservoir, another popular fishing and boating spot in the county, had dried up so much over the past couple of years that rangers were forced to move the boat ramp near the middle of the lake.

"I flew over the reservoir yesterday, and it's really quite a funny sight to see the boat ramp right in the middle of the lake. They'll just have to drag it back out," he said. "But this is great. The reservoirs are filling up and it'll be water we can use next year."

Enterprise resident and longtime rancher Lee Bracken was at the town firehouse Thursday evening, helping those who needed it.

"We are really grateful for the rain, and wish we had more of it," Bracken said. "We've had a few homes get a few wet spots, but there's no real flooding that I'm aware of. The ground is getting saturated and soaked. The rain is very, very welcome."

Utah snow totals were also impressive from the storm. Through Thursday afternoon, Cedar Breaks had 37 inches of snow, Alta 56 and Snowbird 28 inches. Most temperatures along the Wasatch Front were in the low 50s Thursday.

Wilensky said a new storm the middle of next week will be colder and could drop snow to the valley storm. He expects some rain today — a 40 percent chance — and maybe a little snow on the benches, with highs in the upper 40s.

There should be a short break starting Friday night, but temperatures will be in the mid-30s, with frost possible.


E-mail: lynn@desnews.com;nperkins@desnews.com