Flash flood warning issued for portions of Washington, Kane counties

UPDATE: The National Weather Service in Salt Lake City has extended the flash flood warning for central Kane County until 9:30 p.m. Monday.

SOUTHERN UTAH — The National Weather Service in Salt Lake City has issued a flash flood warning for eastern Washington County and western Kane County, effective until 8:15 p.m. Sunday for Washington County and 8:30 p.m. for Kane County.

Flooding is already occurring near Orderville and Glendale and is affecting the east fork of the Virgin River.

Affected areas

The warning is for the area of the east fork of the Virgin river from Orderville to the terminus at the Virgin River, including the portion of the east fork of the Virgin River in Zion National Park.

Areas affected by the flash flood warning issued, St. George, Utah, Sunday, May 24, 2015 | Graphic courtesy of National Weather Service
Areas affected by the flash flood warning, radar time 5:46 p.m., May 24, 2015 | Image courtesy of National Weather Service, St. George News

Orderville and Mt. Carmel are expected to experience flash flooding.

In central Kane County, as of 5:35 p.m., radar estimates show 1 to 1.5 inches of rain over the upper reaches of the Wahweap and Warm Creek drainages from the headwaters to Lake Powell, which will cause flash flooding along both drainages.

It will take several hours for the flood wave to reach Lake Powell.

Precautionary/preparedness actions

A flash flood warning tells residents that flooding is imminent. All residents in the affected areas should move to higher ground as quickly as possible. Remain alert for flooding, even in locations not receiving rain. Dry washes, streams and rivers can become raging killer currents in a matter of minutes, even from rain falling at a distance.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and the National Weather Service offer safety rules for flash flood conditions:

  • Conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding. Flash flooding is a very dangerous situation.
  • Flash flood waves, moving at incredible speeds, can roll boulders, tear out trees, destroy buildings and bridges, and scour out new channels. Killing walls of water can reach heights of 10 to 20 feet. You will not always have warning that these deadly, sudden floods are coming. When a flash flood warning is issued for your area, or the moment you first realize that a flash flood is imminent, act quickly to save yourself. You may have only seconds.
  • Most flood deaths occur in automobiles. Do not drive your vehicle into areas where the water covers the roadway. Flood waters are usually deeper than they appear. The road bed may not be intact under the water. Just one foot of flowing water is powerful enough to sweep vehicles off the road. If the vehicle stalls, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water may engulf the vehicle and its occupants and sweep them away. Case in point: In July 2013, a tour bus in Arizona tipped over and got swept nearly one-half mile down an otherwise dry wash.
  • Do not hike rivers and especially slot canyons while flash flood warnings are in place.
  • Do not hike alone, and always tell someone where you and your buddy and others are going.
  • Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, canyons, washes, etc.
  • Avoid already flooded and high-velocity flow areas. Do not try to cross a flowing stream on foot where water is above your knees.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.
  • During any flood emergency, stay tuned to your NOAA weather radio, commercial radio or television; follow St. George News at STGnews.com and Facebook for weather alerts and updates relevant to Southern Utah. Information from the National Weather Service and disaster and emergency services may save your life.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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