ST. GEORGE – The National Weather Service has issued flash flood warnings for Thursday evening in parts of east-central and southwestern Washington County.
- Update at 6:31 p.m., July 12: Flooding has been reported on both sides of state Route 18 at milepost 16, according to the Utah Department of Transportation.
- 6:45 p.m.: Flooding on SR-18 has left debris in the roadway, according to Washington County Emergency Services. Crews are working to clear the roadway and motorists are asked to avoid the area.
- 7:15 p.m.: SR-18 has been cleared and reopened.
Around 5:10 p.m., Doppler radar indicated a thunderstorm producing heavy rain over Zion National Park. The rainfall is anticipated to create flash flooding in the areas of the North Fork Virgin River, North Creek, Dry Creek and a few smaller watersheds in the park.
Shortly after the Zion National Park alert, the weather service detected a thunderstorm producing heavy rain over the headwaters of the Santa Clara River including Snow Canyon State Park and tributaries leading into the park.
The flash flooding alert for Santa Clara River and Snow Canyon State Park and the Zion National Park area will be in effect until 9:30 p.m.
Over an inch of rain has fallen around Zion National Park. This amount of rainfall on an already saturated watershed will spawn high flows and flash flooding.
In the area of the Santa Clara River and Snow Canyon State Park, rainfall estimates say that some areas have received up to 1.5 inches in the past hour. Intense rainfall is widespread throughout this area.
Specific areas that may experience flooding include Zion National Park, Virgin, Springdale and Rockville, as well as St. George, Santa Clara, Ivins, Gunlock, Veyo, Snow Canyon State Park, Pine Valley, Central and Toquerville.
Flash flood warnings have also been issued for other parts of Utah and I-15 near Mesquite.
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 distant rainfall.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and the National Weather Service offer the following safety rules for flash flooding:
- 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 1 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 official weather reports via radio, television and social media. Cell phone users can also sign up to receive weather alerts as text messages. You can also follow St. George News and Cedar City News for weather alerts and updates relevant to Southern Utah.
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