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Water worries: Utah cities react to flooding; 20 Kaysville homes evacuated after road damage

SHARE Water worries: Utah cities react to flooding; 20 Kaysville homes evacuated after road damage
Major erosion of a road has occurred in a subdivision in the Kaysville foothills due to snowpack runoff.

Major erosion of a road has occurred in a subdivision in the Kaysville foothills due to snowpack runoff Wednesday, April 12, 2023.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Twenty homes have been evacuated as a precaution as spring runoff flooded and damaged a road in a Kaysville neighborhood Wednesday morning.

Kaysville Fire Chief Paul Erickson said crews responded to the Orchard Ridge neighborhood and began knocking on doors as floodwaters entered the neighborhood.

“We have washout on Orchard Ridge Lane, big sinkholes, sidewalk caved in,” Erickson said. “Water is flowing down Orchard Ridge right now.”

In a Facebook post, the city said roads have been severely damaged near Orchard Ridge Lane and Mountain Road, with several sections of pavement having collapsed. The city warned residents living along Orchard Ridge, Stone House Bend or Cobblewood Court to move vehicles out of the area and to stay off those roads.

“As stability of roads and infrastructure cannot be immediately determined, please stay out of the area,” the post said.

The American Red Cross of Utah opened an evacuation shelter at 1085 N. 50 East in Kaysville at a meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Residents can visit the shelter or call 1-800-733-27677 (RED-CROSS).

Ivory Homes, the developer of the recently completed Orchard Ridge Estates subdivision, said in a statement that none of its new homes have had water infiltrate the interiors and said there was no private property damage.

“We are alarmed by the news of significant flooding in the Orchard Ridge Community in east Kaysville. We are grateful that everyone in the area is reported to be safe,” the statement said. “Our initial inspection indicates that a substantial amount of water from snowmelt accelerated by the recent warm weather inundated the city storm drain system. The volume of the water directed at the system was not anticipated by the designs approved by the city, and as a result, the water significantly undermined these new streets.”

Ivory Homes said it is working closely with city officials and is delivering “thousands of sandbags” to help the city mitigate the floods.

Neighbors were placing rocks and construction boards along their property to try to channel the water to the middle of the road. Authorities believe only one home at the bottom of the neighborhood sustained some flood damage.

Crews were working to repair a gas leak as well.

Erickson said the evacuations were precautionary. Their biggest worry is the road will completely wash out and leave vehicles stranded at the homes and hinder future evacuation efforts, which could be necessary.

Flooding elsewhere in Utah

Flooding has also become a problem in other parts of the Wasatch Front, as Utah’s record snowpack, which reached a record 30 inches statewide last week, begins to melt during the state’s first real warmup of the year.

The high-pressure system continues to linger over the state, helping Salt Lake City reach a record of 83 degrees on Tuesday. The previous mark of 80 degrees had stood since 1934.

It’s also prevented overnight lows in the mountains from reaching the freezing point, says KSL meteorologist Matt Johnson. Even places like Mount Baldy in Little Cottonwood Canyon, which has an elevation of just over 11,000 feet, had temperatures above 32 degrees the last two nights.

The ongoing warmth is sending extra water into the streams, creeks and rivers that flow into the valleys. Johnson adds that many dry washes have also “come to life,” which may catch residents near them “off guard.” The statewide snowpack figure has already dropped 2 inches over the past four days.

“That’s playing into it. We’re getting melting overnight,” he said. “A lot of that is due to the warm southwest flow, bringing up warm desert air out of Arizona.”

In Bountiful, around 40 people showed up to help with minor flooding that damaged a road Tuesday. Residents originally thought the water may have been from a water-main break, but they realized it was coming from the nearby spillway.

Neighbors told KSL-TV that runoff usually goes into a culvert and then runs through a pipe under the street. The water, however, broke a hole in the middle of their street.

Ogden residents, public works crews and firefighters also worked to divert flooding in the Douglas Street Trailhead area into canals and storm drains. City officials said they are looking at more flood preparations as the weather continues to warm.

Flooding began to impact 1700 North in North Ogden on Wednesday morning. Mark Malan, the first counselor in the North Ogden Coldwater Stake presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ, said the floods aren’t impacting homes, and residents have been sandbagging throughout the night.

Emigration Creek in Salt Lake City also began “overtopping” early Wednesday, sending extra water onto 1700 South between 1500 East and 1700 East, according to Salt Lake City public utilities director Laura Briefer.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said three homes have water in garages or basements but there doesn’t appear to be any widespread flooding impact or threat. No homes have been evacuated and crews are working to divert the runoff.

Salt Lake officials said 1700 South is now closed between 1500 East and 1700 East as crews work to divert water south into a nearby storm drain system, Briefer said. She added that it should help lower the water levels near Wasatch Hollow Park, which is also currently closed.

Late Wednesday morning the National Weather Service issued a river flood advisory for Salt Lake City’s East Bench and areas downstream along Emigration Creek. The advisory is in place through at least midnight on Thursday morning.

“Caution is urged when walking near riverbanks,” the advisory said. “If you are in the advisory area, remain alert to possible flooding or the possibility of the advisory being upgraded to a warning.”

Relief on the way?

This week’s record temperatures will soon come to end, though — at least for the next few days. A low-pressure system is forecast to arrive from the Pacific Northwest early Thursday morning.

Johnson said it might bring a tenth to a quarter of precipitation in northern Utah in the form of rain and snow that could impact morning travel; however, it will bring a 30-degree cooldown, which is the most important component of the storm.

“That’s going to slow the melting process (and) it’ll get freezing temperatures back at the mountaintops,” he said. “With this cooler weather, it’ll slow the daytime melting and it’ll refreeze the snow overnight in the mountains. ... We’re going to take a deep breath and take a nice break, I think, from the excessive snowmelt.”

Temperatures will begin to warm up in the region by the end of the weekend and into next week. That’s when snowmelt issues may resume.

“If you live in a bench area, by the mouth of a canyon or at the base of a dry wash, you need to start thinking about sandbags, you need to start thinking about looking at the forecast because if it warms up quickly, that dry wash can turn into a stream or maybe a river,” Johnson said.

Full seven-day forecasts for areas across Utah can be found online, at the KSL Weather Center.

Contributing: Linda Williams, Josh Ellis