NEWS LIVE: This report contains news live as it develops and is being updated continuously. Bookmark and refresh the page periodically for updates. Last update 7:05 PM – Zion National Park update.
SOUTHERN UTAH — Severe thunderstorms are impacting Washington County Saturday morning.
At 8:27 a.m. Doppler Radar located the storm 7 miles south of Hurricane, or 16 miles west of Colorado City and moving north at 45 mph. The National Weather Service alert anticpated the storm impacting Hurricane, LaVerkin, Toquerville, Leeds, Virgin, Rockville and Pintura. Other areas are being affected as well.
At 9:50 a.m. St. George Communications Center advises there is debris in the roads everywhere and travelers should take caution.
Zion National Park – PARTIAL REOPENING
At 1:30 p.m., Zion National Park advised that park roads are currently closed due to flooding from heavy rains this morning. The rains have caused numerous debris flows of rocks and mud across portions of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and the Zion–Mt. Carmel Highway-SR-9. Park Rangers are also concerned about portions of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway being undercut by flood waters. Park maintenance staff is currently working to remove the debris from the roadways and accessing any further road damage. The park’s release assured every effort will be made to open the park roads as soon as it is safe to do so.
All park facilities including the visitor center, museum and campgrounds are currently open. Zion Lodge is also open, but traffic restrictions are in place. There have been no injuries reported at this time.
Zion National Park is under a flood warning until 4 p.m. this afternoon for significant rainfall. As of 1:30 p.m. today, the park has received approximately 1½ – 2 inches of rain and it continues to fall.
UPDATE – At 4:37 p.m. Zion National Park issued a statement indicating some roads in the park have been reopened. The only remaining closures are the Kolob Canyons Scenic Drive in the northern section of the park, the Zion-Mt Carmel Highway – SR-9, and the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive which will remain closed beyond Zion Canyon Lodge. Road crews are working to open these closed roads as soon as it is safe to do so.
Thunderstorms caused numerous debris flows of rocks and mud across portions of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and the Zion–Mt. Carmel Highway-SR-9. Park maintenance staff was able to remove the debris from some the roadways and safely reopen them to park visitors. Road crews discovered a significant washout on the road near the small tunnel on the Zion-Mt Carmel Highway-SR-9 and are assessing the damage. This section of road is expected to reopen later Saturday night or early Sunday.
All park facilities in Zion National Park are open including the visitor centers, museum, campgrounds and Zion Lodge. The Kolob Canyons Scenic Drive will remain closed until road crews can clear debris from the road. The Zion Canyon Shuttle system is operating in both the park and neighboring Springdale.
SR-9 is open in Springdale although covered with mud in at least three places, largely due to the fact that the culverts can’t handle the water.
“When a desert river floods like this, you can smell the mud in the air,” Springdale resident Dan Mabbutt said around 3:45 p.m. “It’s a distinctive odor that you just can’t mistake.”
Although the Virgin River, which runs through Springdale, is in flood right now, it’s not the highest Mabbutt has seen.
“The biggest flood I have seen was only a foot below the same bridge you see in the photo (inset).” Mabbutt said. “It went up over the ‘dog park’ then and it’s nowhere near the dog park now.”
The Zion Canyon Shuttle system is operating in both Zion National Park and Springdale.
Interstate 15 – REOPENED
According to Nevada Department of Transportation, I-15 is closed in both directions just south of Mesquite, Nevada, due to flash flooding, water and debris over the roadway. (See UPDATE – I-15 is open in both directions.)
Old Highway 91 – Ivins – REOPENED
Heavy rain has caused traffic diversions on Old Highway 91 around mile marker 6.
Beginning around 5:30 a.m., area rain has caused rocks and mud to wash across Old Highway 91, Washington County Emergency Services Director Pete Kuhlman said. Kuhlman advises people to avoid travel unless necessary until the storm lets up.
Westbound lanes toward Ivins have been shut down, travelers trying to get to Ivins must take alternate routes.
At 9:50 a.m. flooding is being reported in the Kayenta community in Ivins.
At 9:50 a.m. St. George Communications Center confirmed flooding remains on Old Highway 91 near Ivins Reservoir and Shivwits at “3-mile lane.” Traffic is being diverted as above described.
Highway 91 is closed on the Arizona side as well, according to Washington County Emergency Services.
At 2 p.m. Old Highway 91 remains closed as well as many dirt roads. Emergency Services advises those who need to get to the Shivwits reservation and Gunlock, to use the back route 400 West.
At 9:20 a.m. flooding is being reported at 400 West and Center Street in Santa Clara. At 9:50 a.m. Santa Clara Drive has a lot of water, but no flooding and is passable.
At 10:20 a.m. there is a lot of standing water near Jacob Hamblin house on Santa Clara Drive. Firemen are directing traffic but it is still passable.
At 9:20 a.m. flooding is being reported on Dixie Drive in St. George. At 9:50 a.m. flooding is reported at 400 East and 400 South in St. George.
During the 10 a.m. hour, much flooding is being reported in St. George as drains are full, particularly in the area of the Red Cliffs Mall.
There are no reports of flooding on state Route 9 in Hurricane, Hurricane Police Sgt. Brandon Buell said, but officers are responding to a large rock in the road at about mile marker 21 on state Route 59.
At 11 a.m., Buell said that there is more water than the drainage can handle at 700 West and State St. in Hurricane. There are no road closures, he said, but travelers should be aware to slow down in this area.
Water level at Gould’s Wash is high and 1150 West State Street at 200 South in Hurricane is therefore closed, Buell said at about 11:50 a.m. At 2 p.m. county emergency services confirmed this closure remains in effect.
Manganese Road at Gunlock road are washed out and closed.
General Steam Road Closed off Gunlock.
At 2 p.m. county emergency services confirmed these roads are still closed and advised those who need to get to Gunlock to use the back route 400 West.
Small rockslides onto state Route 14 cause minor pauses in traffic flow as Utah Department of Transportation cleared the road. See photos.
Santa Clara’s Swiss Days Parade has been canceled but note the rest of the Swiss Days events in Santa Clara are on. Read more: A quarter-century of Swiss Days: Santa Clara celebrates 25 years of heritage.
The Friends of Snow Canyon State Park cleanup at Chuckwalla Trail has been canceled, due to the park’s concerns about lightning hazards.
The DRATS cleanup at Sand Mountain is on. Read more: Join Desert RATS for Sand Mountain cleanup, raffle.
The United Way Charity Event in St. George Town Square is on – Live United – Live Music Fest – mainliners come on at 5 p.m to 10 p.m. Read more: Car, pool table, iPad among prizes at Ball Drop for Charity; how to enter. Due to the rain and threat of lightning, the ball drop / prize giveaways are postponed to a later date to be announced. People can still by balls online until the ball drops, by making a donation at United Way Dixie.
Beaver Dam, Arizona
Beaver Dam and particularly Beaver Dam Resort area faces flooding. Voluntary evacuations are underway. Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson posted on Facebook:
We are going door to door asking people to evacuate due to rising waters. At this point it is voluntary to leave but we are recommending leaving until water subsides.
Despite an earlier alert that evacuations were taking place, Kuhlmann said that no evacuations have occurred, and everyone is safe at this time. The road washed out but residents are sheltering in place, meaning they are staying in their homes until the water goes down, Kuhlmann said at 12:40 p.m.
Beaver Dam wash
Beaver Dam Wash just south of the Utah/Arizona border rose from 0 cubic feet per second to 11013 cubic feet per second in roughly four hours, according to Washington County Emergency Services at around 12:50 p.m.
Chris Morris with the US Geological Survey in Nevada was at the wash in Beaver Dam taking discharge readings this afternoon. During the 1 p.m. hour, PDT, he said the river was past its peak and in recession. At its peak today, Morris said, based on preliminary data the water height there was the second highest the USGS has registered since installing their gauge in 1993, the highest being in 2005. He said:
“This is 10,000 times more water than normal. This is probably like 7,000 cfs,” Morris said indicating the current flow, “so, a cubic foot of water every second, and typically this time of year it’s .6 cfs.”
Virgin River near Littlefield, Arizona, rose from 150 cubic feet per second to 7,102 cubic feet per second in three hours.
In Zion National Park the Virgin River went from 40 cubic feet per second to 1,200 cubic feet per second in two hours. UPDATE at 2:15 p.m. the United States Geological Survey waterwatch shows the Virgin River in the area of Virgin 2,330 cubic feet.
People are urged to avoid these areas and stay away from the banks of waterways.
Read more: Swiftwater, high angle teams rescue 13 campers stranded by 1:30 a.m. flash flood in slot canyon
St. George News Editor-in-Chief Joyce Kuzmanic contributed to this report from St. George, St. George News reporter Hollie Reina contributed to this report from Santa Clara, KCSG chief reporter Corbin Wade contributed to this report from Arizona, St. George News-KCSG reporter Carin Miller contributed to this report from Cedar City.
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