SPRINGDALE – Alarms went off in Zion Park on Sunday, Jan. 13 when automated equipment maintained by the United States Geophysical Service (USGS) shot up to flood stage levels.
At 4:30 a.m. today, it resulted in registering major flood levels for the North Fork Virgin River near Springdale, an “observed value at 19.96 feet” (flood stage is 9.3 feet).
A glance out of a window made it clear that no flood was happening. As comedian Stephen Colbert has remarked, “What are you going to believe? A computer or your lying eyes?”
A major flood that covered properties along the river in Springdale took place just before Christmas in 2010 so technicians were sent to check it out anyway and found that the river gauge was malfunctioning due to the unusually cold weather in the Park this year.
Aly Baltrus, Zion Park Chief of Interpretive Services said that a flood this year is unlikely. “There would not only have to be a lot of snow, but there would also have to be a huge warming trend.”
The NWS site also registered flood action level for minor flooding of the Virgin River in the Hurricane area at 7:15 a.m., with levels dropping back below flood stage by 10 a.m.
If you follow the USGS flood event reporting on the Internet, St. George News pictures taken early on Monday, Jan. 14 should give you some reassurance. Our photo gallery follows:
Note: Click on photo to enlarge, use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through this story’s photo gallery.
St. George News Editor-in-Chief Joyce Kuzmanic contributed to this story.
Ed. correction made 11:15 a.m. with apologies to Stephen Colbert for misspelling his name with a “v.”