Today there is still close to 200″ of solid snow at Snowbird and Alta.
While Alta will soon close, Snowbird will remain open indefinitely.
Utah Flood in 1983
Last Thursday I witnessed the beginning of the flooding in Millcreek Canyon. I’m old enough to remember the massive flooding that hit Salt Lake City back in 1983. Perhaps it might be strange, but the feeling I remember from that period isn’t anything like fear, dread or panic, but something like excitement and wonder at both the powerful forces of mother nature; and witnessing a true community effort come together to protect homes and properties.
In 1983, there was still over 150″ of snow in the mountains as Memorial Day was approaching.
The temperatures were staying low and the snow remained deep and settled. as April moved into May conditions didn’t improve but remained mostly cold and wet.
When Memorial Day weekend came temperatures surged into the nineties and melting snow produced unprecedented winter runoff. To compound, the problem, debris, and wreckage choked off the City Creek Canyon stream and sent water rushing over the banks and down State Street. This transformed Highway 89 into a wide river for weeks.
One lucky angler caught a fish in the State Street River.
According to the Deseret News, regarding flooding in Utah, at about this same time the Spanish Fork River, buried railroad lines and caused a massive landslide which buried the town of Thistle in 180 feet of water. The town never recovered. The estimated damage was $200 million. Houses can be seen in the former town of Thistle, still buried in their watery grave.
But despite the devastation and the damage, Salt Lake City residents stepped up in a major way. Volunteers came out by the thousands to help sandbag streets and protect properties.
My grandparents lived on Cottonwood Lane in Holladay. Their house was flooded with three feet of water in the basement overnight. Volunteers came out and raised the banks of the creek to prevent the water from causing further flood damage. This same effort was applied to a much larger scale in downtown Salt Lake City’s State Street.
The photos on the Deseret News website do a great job of capturing the atmosphere. It was a time when everyone in Salt Lake City realized if they could carry a sandbag they should step up and help save properties.
Likelihood of Flooding Today
So can we expect flooding anything like the flood of 1983 this year? Not likely. For one thing, the flood prevention measures taken since 1983, especially up City Creek Canyon are almost fail-proof. They have added culverts and debris gates to nearly every area where debris could cause the rivers to jump their banks.
If you want to find out more details about the measures that have been taken. Or if this subject interests you. Please like this story. Share it on Facebook and we will spend time researching and preparing a follow-up story for Memorial Day weekend, the time when flooding would be most likely to occur.