Wet winter leads to flooding at Bonneville Salt Flats

Jan 24, 2023, 11:06 PM | Updated: Jan 25, 2023, 9:53 am

TOOELE COUNTY, Utah — The Bonneville Salt Flats have flooded after all the rain Utah has had this winter.

Geologist Jeremiah Bernau with the Utah Geological Survey has studied the Salt Flats for six years. He said this is the wettest he’s ever seen it.

“It’s extremely diluted,” he said. “There’s a lot of water that’s come into the system recently.”

It’s not unusual to see some flooding out at the Salt Flats. Last year’s Speed Week event was cancelled because of it, but Bernau said the amount of water that’s collected at the Salt Flats right now is significant.

“There’s a much deeper area that can get maybe one to two feet deep. As you go away from that, it gets a lot thinner out to the edges,” he said.

The usually desolate, white raceway now looks more like a giant puddle. Bernau said ice has been spotted on the surface of the floodwaters.

“All that salt that dissolves when we have all this rain, it’s not going anywhere,” Bernau said.

Visitors still flock to the Salt Flats, but the unusually high water makes some people, particularly those in the racing community, nervous.

“What is most likely to lead to a racing event being cancelled is if we have a rainfall occurring in the summer,” Bernau said.

He said having this much water at the Salt Flats is a great thing to see.

“Having a wetter climate, or more rainfall, is better for the long-term health of the salt crust,” he said.

The water will go, but the salt will stay.

“I’m actually optimistic that this upcoming year, if we have a really nice, hot summer that evaporates all the brine, will be good for racing,” Bernau said.

As for the photo opportunities out at the flats, Bernau said even with the flooding, they’re still there.

“I’ve seen people do some amazing things with the reflection when there’s that shallow water out there.”

The UGS recently installed a photo station at the end of the Salt Flats access road off Interstate 80 Exit 4.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Jesus the Christ: The Mesa Easter Pageant...
Candice Madsen

Behind the scenes of the world’s largest annual Easter pageant

Spectacular pageantry, Biblical verse, music, dance, and a cast of hundreds help tell the greatest story ever told on the grounds of the Mesa Arizona Temple.
1 day ago
Crews cleaning off ice on an airplane. (KSLTV/Mark Less)...
Ayanna Likens

SLC Airport suggests arriving early ahead of Spring Break travel

Salt Lake City International Airport is expecting high volumes of travel this week with more than 29,000 passengers to go through the airport.
1 day ago
A semi truck lost control and ended up in the Weber River Sunday afternoon. (Mountain Green Fire Pr...
Brooke Williams

Semi hauling 72,000 lbs of beer crashes in creek near Weber River

A semi truck lost control and ended up in a creek near the Weber River Sunday afternoon.
1 day ago
Sandy Police said one person died in an officer-involved shooting Sunday morning. (KSL TV)...
Shelby Lofton

Witness video captures deadly officer involved shooting

Sandy Police said one person died in an officer-involved shooting Sunday morning.
1 day ago
A herd of some 80 elk found solace at a golf course in Salt Lake City. The elk returned to the golf...
Brooke Williams

Elk herd returns to SLC golf course after multiple relocation attempts

A large herd of elk returned to a golf course a week after being relocated to the canyon.
1 day ago
Elayne Harmer's chickens run around their roost in her backyard in Bountiful on June 2, 2022. (Elay...
Cassidy Wixom

The fulfilling and challenging experience of raising backyard chickens

Harmer said the chickens have charmed her and she dotes on them. And, because she doesn't have any grandkids, yet — the chickens have become her "little babies."
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Close up of an offset printing machine during production...
Les Olson IT

Top 7 Reasons to Add a Production Printer to Your Business

Learn about the different digital production printers and how they can help your company save time and money.
vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Wet winter leads to flooding at Bonneville Salt Flats