Flood warning issued, waters expected to rise this week
Record snowpacks and warmer temperatures are bringing more meltwater into the already swollen rivers of the region.
This week, that’s expected to culminate in some of the area’s flooding issues.
In a post on the Weber County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, it was announced Monday that the National Weather Service has issued flood warnings for the South Fork (Ogden) River and lower Weber River in Weber County effective through Saturday.
“Flows are expected to be high on the rivers, and residents are encouraged to be careful and avoid the waterways,” the post reads. “We also encourage those that live in those areas to take appropriate actions to protect their homes.”
Weber County Emergency Manager Lisa Gosline told the Standard-Examiner on Monday the county has been working feverishly to get ahead of this year’s expected flooding.
“We have been providing sand and sandbags to the upper valley for over two months now,” she said. “I think (we’ve transported) somewhere around 45,000 sandbags up there and the sand to fill them.”
She said residents in areas along the lower Weber River have also taken the initiative to place sandbags along their properties.
“In West Weber, we’ve been giving them sand for the last month and a half,” she said. “They’re preparing. We’re doing our best to keep up with the requests. For incorporated cities, they just need to check with their civic leaders to see what they’re doing. But for unincorporated areas, we have gotten sand and sandbags to all of those areas of concern.”
According to Gosline, if any area along the South Fork Ogden River has had flooding issues in recent history, it will have those issues again this year.
“Along the South Fork, those areas that have had problems in the past will likely have problems again, and the people have, for the most part, all sandbagged” she said. “The lower Weber, same thing — we have had lots of drones out at least three to five times or more per week. … Our crews between roads department, engineering and emergency management, we’re checking every day multiple times and following up on things.”
Rivers have already been breaching their banks in some areas already.
Early in the morning on Monday, reports came in that parts of state Route 39 in Ogden Canyon just to the east of Ogden have standing water over them. The road was not closed but was being heavily monitored throughout the morning.
Utah Department of Transportation spokesman Mitch Shaw told the Standard-Examiner that debris where the road ran over the river was to blame.
“One of the culverts got clogged,” he said. “We’ve since fixed it and cleared it. The road is good right now.”
He said closures could be a possibility in the future.
“We don’t expect any closures or anything right now, but it’s always a possibility,” he said. “We’re just continuing to monitor that culvert.”
Shaw said the heavy snowmelt is helping pull more debris into rivers and streams throughout the region.
“The water is coming down at such a rate and the vegetation has softened, and with the force of the water coming down, we are seeing some debris,” he said. “We’ve cleared debris upriver and right now, we’re continuing to monitor it and hope for the best.”
He said UDOT and others have tried to be as proactive as possible on the debris issue.
“We’ve been spending the spring, and even the latter parts of winter, clearing culverts and trying to remove debris where we can and where we’ve seen problems in the past,” he said. “This is obviously an atypical year. We try to be proactive, but in this case, this was a situation where we had to be reactive.”
Near Ogden, Fort Buenaventura Park is closed until further notice due to flooding, according to a post on the Weber County Parks & Recreation Facebook page.
Gosline said she’s confident that flood defense improvements made in the area over the last decade will be able to mitigate this year’s flooding.
“We’ve already seen it because two weeks ago we were at higher flows and not having the issues like we did in 2011,” she said. “That tells us a lot of the mitigation that’s already been done has really helped. The river is probably in the best shape it’s ever been in because of the work that’s been done.”
The Weber County Sheriff’s Department’s Facebook post also listed several ways to contact officials in case of flooding issues or for sandbagging help: “For active flooding, please call 801-395-8221. For sand and sandbag requests (if you live in unincorporated Weber County), text 801-870-5153 (text only). If you see debris blockages or other flooding concerns, text the location, a description and a picture to 801-870-5153.”
For more information and updates, visit webercountyutah.gov/sheriff/homeland.