Flash flood watch issued: ‘Turn around, don’t drown’

In this October 2015 file photo, heavy rains triggered more flooding in Hildale just a month after a flash flood in the same area killed 12 people and swept away one young boy who has not been found, Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, Oct. 17, 2015 | Photo by Cami Cox Jim, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for portions of central and Southern Utah including Utah’s Dixie and Zion National Park.

Timing

A flash flood watch has been issued for parts of central and Southern Utah including Utah’s Dixie and Zion National Park, July 18, 2017 | Map courtesy of the National Weather Service, St. George News

The flash flood watch is in effect from Wednesday morning through the evening hours.

Impacted areas

Central and Southern Utah including the following areas:

Castle Country, Central Mountains, San Rafael Swell, Sanpete/Sevier Valleys, Wasatch Plateau/Book Cliffs, west dentral Utah, Glen Canyon Recreation Area/Lake Powell, south central Utah, southern mountains,
southwest Utah, and Utah’s Dixie and Zion National Park.

Dangerous conditions

A flash flood watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding. Flash flooding is a very dangerous situation.

Be prepared to monitor later forecasts and be ready to take action should flash flood warnings be issued.

Zion National Park continues to remind the public that “The Narrows and all slot canyons are closed” because of the flash flood watch.

Read more: Flash flood at swimming hole kills 7; more people missing

Thunderstorms expected

Numerous thunderstorms are expected to develop across central and Southern Utah late Wednesday morning and continue through the evening hours. Some of these storms will be capable of producing very heavy rainfall which may result in flash flooding.

Read more: Flash flood warning issued, thunderstorms bringing heavy rainfall

Heavy rainfall can lead to rapid onset flooding with some of the most prone areas being slot canyons, burn scars, normally dry washes and low water crossings. Water can rise quickly downstream of heavy rain, even when the parent thunderstorm is many miles away.

Rock and mud slides, as well as water flowing across roadways, will be possible which could locally impact travel.

Read more: Rescue commander tells how to survive a flash flood

Turn around, don’t drown

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and the National Weather Service offer safety rules for 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.
  • 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, including dips, low spots, canyons and washes.
  • 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 St. George News 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.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

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