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Chances for widespread flooding in Weber County viewed as minimal compared to last year

By Rob Nielsen - | Apr 9, 2024

Rob Nielsen, Standard-Examiner

The Ogden River near the mouth of Ogden Canyon is pictured Tuesday, April 9, 2024.

OGDEN — Short of a worst-case scenario, local officials aren’t seeing much of a widespread flood risk this spring.

A year removed from record snowpacks and runoffs that had officials making early preparations for flooding, Eli Johnson, Weber County emergency management coordinator, told the Standard-Examiner on Tuesday that this spring is shaping up to be quieter.

“(It’s) kind of dependent on Mother Nature,” he said. “The anticipated runoff from the forecast center is about anywhere from an average runoff to about 108% of an average runoff based on the water volumes we have right now.”

He said, for the moment, impacts are looking like they will be minimal.

“The northern end of Weber Basin drainage — which is primarily northern Weber County, upper valley, Eden area — is higher as far as snowpack than the southern end of the Weber Basin drainage area,” he said. “Depending on weather and how the runoff comes, we’re anticipating some minor problems, potentially, on the north end of the valley. Nothing near what we saw last year.”

Johnson said, in the short-term, weather patterns are looking favorable for a gradual unloading of the snowpack into the lower elevations.

“If we don’t continue to accumulate any additional snowpack, we should be pretty good as far as the runoff this year,” he said. “The weather pattern, as it’s lining up for us this weekend and next, is kind of perfect for what we’d like to start getting the snow down slowly — a nice 3-4 (degree) warmup to get everything moving and then we get cold again and kind of slow everything down and work its way into the drainages and reservoirs without causing problems.”

He said one problem last year was that this idyllic cycle kept experiencing interruptions.

“Every time we’d get that cooldown, everything that we’d burnt down or run into the reservoirs or run into the drainages during the little warmup, we’d build that back plus another 20%,” he said.

Johnson said conditions look like they’ll be more of a benefit to the region rather than a hinderance.

“We’ll have a great runoff either way,” he said. “Right now, it looks like, with the efficiency of the runoff, we’re going to get a lot of water in the reservoirs. We’re going to be able to get some more water into the Great Salt Lake. If Mother Nature cooperates, we’ll be able to do that without causing any issues to anyone’s private property or any of the public infrastructure.”

As mankind can attest, however, Mother Nature is not always cooperative. Johnson said that a rapid and sustained warmup could melt the snowpack too quickly and lead to problems.

Should this be the case, there are still preparations in place to mitigate a substantial flooding event.

“We’re still going down that road,” Johnson said. “We have a reserve of sandbags that are on-site. We’ve got several hundred thousand sandbags prepared in the event we need to start distributing those if we see some flooding issues coming up. We have everything in place to repeat the playbook from last year. I don’t know if we’ll see that kind of impact based on the snowpack unless we get the worst possible conditions — 90 degrees and driving rain type of weather.”

He said the Emergency Management Department continues to meet on a regular basis with other partners throughout the county to continually reassess the situation.


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