Hydrologist: We’re only 1/3 of the way through snowmelt runoff marathon

May 5, 2023, 5:12 PM | Updated: May 7, 2023, 7:46 pm

SALT LAKE COUNTY, UtahFlooding has caused problems for some Utahns for about a month, but northern Utah is not even halfway through the snowmelt runoff, according to a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City.  

There’s still a lot of water that needs to come down from the high elevation snowpack.

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

On Big Cottonwood Creek, near the mouth of the canyon, the water is really rocking. But Glen Merrill with the NWS said this is nowhere near peak runoff; that’s still about a month away, depending on the weather.

“Right now, we are in a lull. We’re looking good,” the hydrologist said. 

The cool weather during the next few days should reduce the flow in some of the creeks that are near their banks. Emigration Creek, which has produced neighborhood flooding in Sugar House, should recede.

“Emigration finally lost its snow, so the creek levels are dropping,” Merrill said. “They are anticipated to stay below flood stage.”

Now, the focus will shift to the high elevation basins, which haven’t even started to melt.

“It’s a marathon,” he said. “It’s going to continue to roll well into, possibly through June, and then once the peak flows are gone, the volume is still going to be coming down.”

(Jed Boal/KSL TV) (Jed Boal/KSL TV) (Jed Boal/KSL TV)

Halfway up Big Cottonwood Canyon at Cardiff Fork, there’s still a lot of snow on the ground, and even a flurry of snow. At the top of the canyon, deep snowpack.

Over in Little Cottonwood Canyon, the snow water equivalent at Snowbird is still more than 70 inches.

In the High Uintas, it’s above 50 inches.

We’re only 1/3 of the way through the snow melt runoff, the hydrologist said.

“We have a long way to go, and we started to get into that flood warning scenario with some of our middle elevation areas. But the race is really just starting to heat up.”

Even after the high elevation drainages peak sometime next month, the hydrologist said there will be high flows well into July.

For more of our flood coverage throughout the state, click here.

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Hydrologist: We’re only 1/3 of the way through snowmelt runoff marathon