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Be alert to possible flooding in Salt Lake County

May 12, 2023 08:56AM ● By Aimee Winder Newton

If you're like me you are ready for some bright May sunshine after a winter of record breaking snowpack and a very snowy spring. While I’m excited for the sunshine, warmer temperatures also means we begin the season of spring runoff and possible flooding. Spring runoff, where the creeks swell from snow melt, typically occurs from April to July. Because of our extreme snowpack this year we are at greater risk for flooding, especially if temperatures rise quickly and cause rapid melt. 

This past month Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson declared a flooding emergency as we saw heavy runoff and flooding in some areas. If you are looking to help fill sandbags, pick up free sandbags, or get tips and information on how to protect your property, visit the Salt Lake County Emergency Management website at

When properly placed, sandbags can help redirect storm and debris flows away from property. A list of sandbag locations along with instructions on the proper use of sandbags are also available on the Salt Lake County Emergency Management website.

It’s important to take precautions and be prepared. Inspect your rain gutters and downspouts and confirm that they are clear of snow and debris. Be sure storm drains closest to your home and the areas around them are clear of any debris. Pay attention to your landscaping, making sure water drains away from your home.

Keep children and pets away from potential flood and drainage areas. Rain on low-elevation valley snow can melt it quickly and increase runoff along streets and roadways. Shallow flooding of parking lots, roadways and intersections could be possible. Watch out for surface runoff and shallow sheet flooding from snow-covered open areas of land or driveways that slope toward a home or residence.

If flooding occurs, evacuate immediately, if told to do so. Never drive around barricades. Local responders use them to safely direct traffic out of flooded areas. Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters. Listen to EAS, NOAA Weather Radio or local alerting systems for current emergency information and instructions regarding flooding.

If you see flooding contact city officials as local roadways, intersections or parking lots are the responsibility of your city. Residents should engage their city resources for local drainage problems. If the debris is in a river, creek, stream or canal, contact SLCO Flood Control at 385-468-6600. 

After the last several years of drought, this spring runoff can be helpful to offset the decreased levels in our lakes and reservoirs. And luckily our state and county are prepared to react quickly to any flooding issues. 

Lastly, I’m grateful we live in a community where neighbors are willing to help each other. We’ve already seen hundreds of volunteers out filling sandbags and pitching in to help place sandbags. Whatever our spring runoff brings, we will be ready. λ