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Flash Floods Possible As Tropical Storm Makes Its Way Through Utah

It’s October and heavy rain is in the forecast, thanks to the after-effects of Tropical Storm Rosa.

Summit County’s Emergency manager Chris Crowley dropped by with some precautions and tips for the rainy season.

Rosa is expected to impact southwest Utah in particular. A briefing from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration says there is a potential for flash flooding in vulnerable areas like slot canyons, normally-dry washes and slick rock areas.

Crowley told Summit County residents what to expect.

“I think that if we have periods of heavy rainfall you definitely want to make sure that the water is running off to the areas that you would prefer that it runs to." Crowley said, "As opposed to inside of your house or creating erosion or debris flows in and around your home.”

He said state and local officials are keeping an eye out for hazards.

“We do have monitors from the National Weather Service which will be very helpful for us." Crowley explained, "The county also has a supply of sandbags and public works of course is at the ready. We had a discussion just yesterday to ensure that our departments are aware of this.”

The briefing from the NOAA says that there’s a potential for debris flows on recent burn scars. That’s a concern for Summit County, given this summer’s fires in Tollgate Canyon and near Echo Reservoir.

“What happens after a fire is the potential for hydrophobic soils to be created by the fire." Crowley continued, "Which is basically a waxyish layer that repels water. What that does is it allows the water to run down the slope unimpeded. It doesn’t get absorbed it could create a lot of erosion and certainly a lot of water collecting at the base or wherever that water travels."

Crowley said in any emergency the first step is to dial 911. He also had this advice on what to do when you encounter flood waters.

“In general, stay away from fast moving water." Crowley said, "Don’t try to drive through fast moving water even if you believe it’s only a few inches. It could in fact have eroded or created a sinkhole or something that could trap your vehicle. You’d be surprised at how quickly your vehicle could be swamped or just pushed down river. Of course, be aware that debris is probably the most dangerous part of that fast-moving water.”

Emergency manager Chris Crowley, who added that sandbags are available at the Public Works Department at Wanship, and the Home Depot, and there is a sand pile left over from a pervious flood watch in the Kamas area.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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