ST. GEORGE — A nasty spring storm dumped snow and rain in the mountains above Utah's Dixie over the weekend, prompting new worries of more flooding throughout the area.

"Almost all of the snow on Kolob and Pine Valley mountain is still up there," Dean Cox, Washington County's emergency services director, said Monday. "We had record flows recorded on three gauges along the Virgin River today, but right now all that water is confined within the river channels. If we're lucky it'll stay that way."

More isolated showers and thunderstorms are on the way for the region this week, according to a hazardous weather outlook report issued by the National Weather Service on Monday.

Four hunters from northern Utah were stranded in heavy, wet snow on Kolob Mountain over the weekend, prompting a search and rescue mission early Monday afternoon. Searchers found the party, who had managed to hike six or seven miles off the snow-laden mountainside into a meadow.

"They weren't exactly lost, they were really just stuck," said Cox of the three men and one teenage boy who were forced to leave their snowmobiles behind. "They were well-prepared, but it really turned into a blizzard over the weekend and dumped on them. They were walking out when we found them."

While there were no weather-related injuries over the weekend, there were a few flooded basements from groundwater runoff and saturated soil.

"We fared very, very well in spite of all the rain we had," said Washington City manager Roger Carter. "It wasn't the Virgin River itself flooding, so we did OK today."

All of the towns along the Virgin and Santa Clara rivers are vulnerable if spring runoff comes fast and furious, according to several city managers.

"We did have a few homes experience some groundwater problems, but that had nothing to do with the rivers," said St. George spokesman Marc Mortensen. "We feel very confident that the work done in the Bloomington area is in good shape for spring runoff, but there are still several areas along both rivers that we need to do more work on."

Funding that work is a huge issue for smaller communities like Washington City, said Carter.

"A lot of the federal funds went to St. George and Santa Clara, but we're hoping we qualify for some of the $25 million appropriated by the state Legislature," he said.

Clearing out tons of silt deposited in the river channels during the January storms is still a major concern for area officials, Carter added.

"We haven't been able to armor some of the banks along the Virgin River yet, and we're waiting for a permit so we can do more work in clearing out that silt and debris," he said.

Clearing debris out of the river channels will continue throughout the summer, Mortensen said.

"In some areas along the river we've got berms in place that are up to 20-feet high," he said. "We want and need to do some more rock work to help protect homes and public infrastructure."

The Natural Resources Conservation Service allocated about $10 million to help repair damaged river channels, which were formerly 20 feet wide and in some places are now 300-feet-wide holes, but much more is needed. The House could approve another $66 million in emergency flood relief funds later this week, Mortensen said.

"We're hoping these funds come sooner rather than later," he said. "We just won't have the money to finish the work that needs to be done without it."


E-mail: nperkins@desnews.com