Forecasters say warmer temps after latest snowstorm likely won’t lead to widespread flooding

Apr 5, 2023, 12:03 PM | Updated: Apr 17, 2023, 4:16 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A break from bitterly cold temperatures is around the corner, but many are worried about flooding if the snow melts too quickly.

Forecasters predict Salt Lake City will reach 70 degrees Monday. Monica Traphagan, senior meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s office in Salt Lake City, said that’s not too far off from the average temperature for the area in the month of April.

“About 10 degrees above normal, which is not particularly unusual,” she said. “It just seems really unusual because we’ve been so cold for this period of time.”

She said she doesn’t expect to see widespread flooding issues with this upcoming warm-up.

“In looking at our potential for flooding for northern Utah over the weekend leading into next week, it remains relatively low,” Traphagan said.

She said forecasters hope for what’s called an orderly melt of the snowpack.

“Start with the low elevation snowpack, then get to the middle elevation snowpack, and then get to the high elevation snowpack,” Traphagan said. “We’re not going to be in a situation where we’re going to be melting that mid and high elevation snowpack early.”

She doesn’t expect to see a massive amount of flooding, but northern Utah will see increased runoff.

“We are in runoff season, and those local creeks and streams are going to be running high, swift and cold,” Traphagan said. “In areas with dense snowpack and areas that have poor drainage, you’re going to have some areas of ponding and things of that nature.”

She said it’s a different forecast for southern Utah.

“You are going to have those issues with snowmelt in southern Utah in this period,” she said. “That’s something to keep in mind — those who have outdoor activities planned in southern Utah over the next few days, particularly in those slot canyons.”

The National Weather Service team in Salt Lake City said, so far, Salt Lake City is on track to gradually warm up, which is key.

“You have some days of warming then you cool down a little bit again, you come up a little bit more,” Traphagan said.

She said spring is a time for transition, but we don’t want to get too hot too quickly.

“If we get a period here in the near future where we’re suddenly up in the Salt Lake Valley up to the 80s, the 90s, then you’re going to have high elevation snowpack coming down at the same time as the mid and low elevation snowpack, and that’s when things might start to get overwhelmed,” Traphagan said. “We’re in wait and see mode and see how these temperatures behave, and that’s going to be a big driver of how our snowmelt behaves and if we see any flooding issues.”

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Forecasters say warmer temps after latest snowstorm likely won’t lead to widespread flooding