Flood warning in effect for Emigration Creek as spring runoff raises water levels

May 1, 2023, 6:13 PM | Updated: 6:44 pm

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah — Some significant concerns up Emigration Canyon, where the creek is running very high and very fast, causing the National Weather Service to issue a flood warning Monday.

Areas were already flooded in and near the canyon, including at the popular Ruth’s Diner, where the lower patio has flooded. The patio is lined with sandbags to divert the water back into Emigration Creek.

“That’s a lot of water. It’s running fast,” said Patrick McIver, general manager for the diner. “It’s normally a very small creek. Currently, it’s a raging creek. I’d say nine feet (deep of water).”

Click here for all current and upcoming forecasts on Utah’s flooding and resources to protect your home.

But the diner and the rest of the outdoor patio seating remain open.

“We are still pumping out great food,” McIver said.

McIver said his kitchen staff stacked the sandbags six high, and right now, it’s working. The sandbags kept the water away from other parts of the restaurant and patio when the creek peaked Sunday night.

“I think we are as fully prepared as we can be. It’s water. It’s going to do what it wants to do,” McIver expressed. “There is no better definition of creekside dining in Salt Lake City right now.”

National Weather Service issues flood warning for Emigration Creek

Up the canyon from the diner, Rich and Betsy Collins have been working in their one-acre lot for weeks to prepare for what’s to come.

They’ve lined the river banks with about 400 sandbags and are just hoping it will hold. They said they’d been there for 30 years and had never seen the creek this high.

“We are a bit worried, but we just keep an eye on it,” Betsy said. “This is about the highest [ever] it’s been and for the longest with this epic snow year.”

“This is the worst that we’ve seen,” Rich added.

Just downstream, Joe Smolka, the mayor of Emigration Canyon Metro Township, is keeping a very close eye on a measuring stick that continues to get buried deeper and deeper in the water as the levels rise.

“That concerns me that we are starting out this high at this time of the day,” Smolka said. “We are watching carefully the river rising. We are watching the sandbag walls that are in place. We are watching the culverts.”

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Flood warning in effect for Emigration Creek as spring runoff raises water levels