“Stay Away, Stay Safe, Stay Alive,” Experts Urge Caution As Rivers Roar
Apr 15, 2019, 6:27 PM | Updated: 6:44 pm
OGDEN, Utah — The Weber River is roaring right now, surging with storm runoff. Emergency management leaders and the Weber County Sheriff are warning people to stay away.
Right now, the Weber River is running at about four times the volume it was a day go. The majority of that extra water is storm surge from the rainstorm that passed through the county early this morning, according to KSL-TV meteorologists.
“We just want to make sure people are warned to stay away from the rivers,” said Lance Peterson, the Weber County Director of Emergency Management.
He said they haven’t seen water levels in the Weber River this high in eight years. That year, a similar springtime storm landed on top of plentiful snowpack. Very little of the water swelling the Weber River today is snowmelt. It’s mostly rainwater, said Peterson.
“The storm really hit Morgan Valley really hard,” said Peterson.
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The Weber Basin Water Conservancy District has been releasing water from reservoirs to make room for snowmelt runoff.
Because of that, there is more water in the Weber River and the Ogden River than usual. The spike in water volume occurred after a heavy downpour near Morgan early this morning.
“The concern right now is people’s safety,” said Peterson. “Stay away from the rivers. Stay away, stay safe, stay alive.”
Search and rescue crews and every deputy in Weber County are ready to act quickly if a person falls in the current. The swift-water rescue team trained during the weekend, and will help train deputies in rescue techniques later this week.
“Every deputy in Weber County was issued a throw bag,” said Lt. Mark Horton, Weber Co. Search and Rescue Commander.
He said they’ve been carrying them for several years because when a person falls in the river, seconds count.
“It’s a fast-moving river,” said Horton. “You have limited time to get responders there. Most likely a policeman or a patrol deputy is going to be the first one there and they have to act now.”
He urged everyone to keep their pets away from the swift water, too.
The water is not likely to reach flood stage, or flood properties, before dropping off in the next few days, said Peterson.
“This is going to run for a couple of days like this before it starts to subside,” he said.
Even after the water from this storm surge passes through, water levels will rise again in a few weeks as high elevation snowmelt starts to run.