Remembering the floods of 1983

May 30, 2023, 1:37 PM | Updated: 5:08 pm

Flooding at Temple Square (Photo: Tom Smart, Deseret News, File)...

Flooding at Temple Square (Photo: Tom Smart, Deseret News, File)

(Photo: Tom Smart, Deseret News, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — This week marks 40 years since the notorious State Street flooding of 1983.

On May 29, 1983, 5,000 volunteers gathered to help fill and line State Street to 400 South with a wall of sandbags. More than 200,000 sandbags held a river of water in place for weeks.

City Creek State Street 1983 river

Water flows out of City Creek and under the Eagle Gate on State Street in Salt Lake City in 1983. (Russell Sorensen)

Makeshift pedestrian bridges were constructed over State Street to allow people to cross the street, now turned river.

Rising water from spring runoff caused City Creek to overflow its banks and threaten downtown buildings and landmarks.

State Street was used to divert the water as well as 1300 South from 600 West to the Jordan River.

A Deseret News article from the time states: “Clear weather with temperatures in the 80s and 90s would normally mean a dream Memorial Day weekend. But a nightmare resulted as hot temperatures quickly melted canyon snow, and the resulting rushing water forced evacuations, turned more roads into rivers and blocked major highways statewide.”

While State Street is generally the focus of flooding memories from 1983, Salt Lake County was certainly not the only part of the state that dealt with the rising water.

(Photo: Tom Smart, Deseret News, File)

The article describes different areas around the state impacted by heavy flooding including:

  • Sunnyside Avenue’s stream of water was diverted from 1900 East to 1700 East, blocking Guardsman Way.
  • “Temporary I-15” near Levan, Juab County, was covered with floodwaters for 11 miles.
  • U-132, west of Nephi, was flooded by Salt Creek.
  • U.S. Highway 89, in Spanish Fork Canyon, was closed due to a mudslide.
  • Homes flooded in Centerville, with a threatening “total power outage.”
  • Homes and businesses flooded along Stone Creek and Barton Creek in Bountiful, and several streets closed for flooding.
  • U-119 between Richfield and Glenwood in Sevier County closed for flooding.
  • Homes in Springville were flooded from Hobble Creek.
  • 1300 South was sandbagged into a river from 600 West to the Jordan River, with  water being more than 5 feet deep in some areas.

Other large flooding years for Utah include 2011, 1983, 1952, and 1901.

Do you have photos of the 1983 flooding you’d like to share? Submit them to our page https://ksltv.com/as-you-see-it/ here. 

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Remembering the floods of 1983