Floods Ravage Utah And Southwest
Floods Ravage Utah And Southwest
A devastating storm ripped through the southwest causing flash floods from Los Angeles to Utah.
Particularly hard hit was the Utah-Arizona border town of Hildale, the home base of Warren Jeffs’ polygamous sect the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or FLDS. Reports confirm that 13 were killed in the flash flooding that, according to eye witness Chris Wyler, only seemed to last, “like a half hour, [or] 45 minutes.” According to Utah officials in the city of Hildale and the Washington County Emergency Services, among the dead are at least 3 women and 6 children, ranging in age from 4 years old to teenagers.
Hildale assistant fire chief Kevin Barlow said water rises 1 to 1 1/2 feet at normal flood stage. A river gauge on Short Creek at Colorado City measured a 3.42 foot rise in just 19 minutes due to the 1st wave of flooding, around 3:18 p.m, and then a 2nd wave 90 minutes later produced a rise of 5.36 feet in 17 minutes, from 4:48 p.m. to 5:05 p.m.
By late Monday the water had mostly receded, but as of Tuesday evening, storms threaten yet another round of flooding. Authorities say that around 150 people from county, state, and federal agencies, 500 community volunteers, and six or seven search dogs are working at search and rescue efforts in Hildale and its sister town across the Arizona border, Colorado City.
Zion National Park Floods
40 miles to the north, KSL.com reports that 3 people were killed and 4 remain missing when flash flooding hit Zion National Park. According to the National Weather Service, up to 1.89 inches of rain has been measured in Zion National Park over the past two days, while Zion National Park public information officer Aly Baltrus says that .63 inches fell between 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Rangers received reports of a group of 7 people canyoneering in Keyhole Canyon, a popular destination among climbers and outdoor explorers located on the east side of Zion National Park, before the flooding occurred. Their vehicles were located Monday evening and a search was launched Tuesday morning turning up the bodied of 4 of the victims. 3 people are still missing.
Los Angeles Floods
Meanwhile, Los Angeles experienced its wettest day since March 2011 when more than 7,300 L.A. Department of Water and Power customers from Watts, Westlake and surrounding communities were left without power Tuesday. At least 10 people, and 1 lucky dog, were rescued from Southern California rivers.
“One of the outages knocked out power to Caltrans water pumps that keep the 710 Freeway dry, leading to flooding near Gage Avenue,” said Caltrans spokesman Patrick Chandler.
“The freeway was shut down for a short period until the southbound side gradually reopened.”
Author’s Opinion: Wild weather patterns aside, the southwest is very familiar with flash flooding, even if some of its inhabitants have forgotten, and remembering to give rising water levels a wide girth is rule #1. A flash flood can happen in a matter of minutes, sweeping away cars and in some extreme cases whole houses. It is not a game. It is a serious force of nature. If you take it for granted there will be tragedy as seen in Hildale.
Stay dry out there folks.
What are your thoughts? Have you been experiencing extreme weather patterns where you live? Are these the same weather systems that reeked havoc across Europe earlier this month? Join in the conversation: comment below, share on Facebook, and find us on Twitter using the hashtag #DMTalk.