Despite previous sunny forecast, National Weather Service issues new flash flood watch

Rain floods the parking lot of Walmart, Cedar City, Utah, July 26, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Ray Gessele, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Although previous weather forecasts were indicating a few days of sunny weather and drying out following a weekend of monsoonal rains, the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City issued a new flash flood watch Monday morning.

Alerts and advisories as of 9:54 a.m., Aug. 2, 2021 | Map from National Weather Service – Salt Lake City office | Click to enlarge

According to the flash flood watch, which is in effect from noon until 9 p.m. Monday, thunderstorms capable of producing torrential rainfall are expected in the afternoon and early evening in much of Southern Utah, dropping more rain on top of already saturated soil.

Heavy rainfall may result in flash flooding, especially in slot canyons, slickrock areas, small streams and normally dry washes and urban areas. Debris flows are also possible near recent burn scars.

The watch comes as bad news in areas that were hit hardest over the weekend in both Washington and Iron counties and where cleanup efforts are still underway, including Enoch, which saw flood damage to hundreds of homes, and Enterprise, which saw both flooding and power outages on Saturday.

While neither St. George nor Enterprise are included in the most recent flood watch and should see sunny skies Monday, both Cedar City and Enoch are showing storms after 3 p.m. that “could produce heavy rain.” Also included in the watch are Glen Canyon National Recreation Area/Lake Powell, Bryce Canyon Country and Brian Head.

Flash flood precautions

Flash flooding is a very dangerous situation. The public should monitor the latest forecasts and be prepared to take action. For the most current conditions, warnings and advisories, go to the National Weather Service-Salt Lake City office website.

Turn around. Don’t drown.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and the National Weather Service offer the following safety rules for flash flooding:

  • Flash flood waves, moving at incredible speeds, can roll boulders, tear out trees, destroy buildings and bridges and scour out new channels. Killing walls of water can reach heights of 10 to 20 feet. You will not always have warning that these deadly, sudden floods are coming. When a flash flood warning is issued for your area or the moment you first realize that a flash flood is imminent, act quickly to save yourself. You may have only seconds.
  • Most flood deaths occur in automobiles. Do not drive your vehicle into areas where the water covers the roadway. Flood waters are usually deeper than they appear. The road bed may not be intact under the water. Just one foot of flowing water is powerful enough to sweep vehicles off the road. If the vehicle stalls, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water may engulf the vehicle and its occupants and sweep them away.
  • Do not hike rivers and especially slot canyons while flash flood warnings are in place.
  • Do not hike alone and always tell someone where you and your buddy and others are going.
  • Get out of areas subject to flooding, including dips, low spots, canyons and washes.
  • Avoid already flooded and high velocity flow areas. Do not try to cross a flowing stream on foot where water is above your knees.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.

During any flood emergency, stay tuned to official weather reports via radio, television and social media. Cell phone users can also sign up to receive weather alerts as text messages. You can also follow St. George News and Cedar City News for weather alerts and updates relevant to Southern Utah.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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