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Flooding in Utah

On this page you learn what types of flooding are typical in Utah and how do you protect yourself, your family and your home. You will also find out more about significant Utah floods. Finally, you'll find links to NWS offices that provide forecast and safety information for Utah, as well as links to our partners who play a significant role in keeping you safe.

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Significant Utah Floods
  • Salt Lake City Flood of 1983

    An area of Salt Lake City area adjacent to State Street was flooded in 1983, resulting in $35 million in damages and 12 injuries. Thankfully, no fatalities were reported. State Street became an impassable river during this event.

    Salt Lake City street scene covered in mud with after flood

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  • Thistle Landslide and Flood of 1983

    A major landslide occurred in Utah County above the town of Thistle. The landslide blocked the Spanish Fork River, which flooded the town of Thistle until it was underwater. The event caused 1 fatality and 2 injuries as well as damages topping $200 million.

    flooded canyon and landslide

    flooded canyon and landslide

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  • Santa Clara River Flood of 2005

    In 2005, 12 inches of precipitation fell in a 48-hour period over southwest Utah. Record flows of over 6,000 cubic feet per second on the Santa Clara River destroyed over 28 homes adjacent to the river. Homes along the river had been built on river sediments deposited from earlier flooding. When this storm occurred, the sediments that the homes had been built on quickly eroded. The Upper Still Reservoir was also damaged by the flood and had to be drained for repairs to take place.

    Early estimates from Washington County placed the total damage of the devastating floods that occurred during the second week of January 2005 at roughly $150 to $180 million, with another $100 million possibly needed for river reclamation efforts. The raging waters of the Santa Clara River, and to a lesser extent the Virgin River, reached flows not seen in this part of the country since floods carried away several settlements and settlers during the winter of 1862.

    House falling into mud

    flooded canyon with trees submerged

    flooded canyon with trees submerged

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  • Virgin River Flood of 2010

    In 2010, a widespread, long duration rainfall event continued for 4 straight days. The North Fork Virgin River, which has a base flow rate of 100 cubic feet per second, rose to 6,000 cubic feet per second during this event. The Virgin River near the town of St. George recorded flows rising from 100 cubic feet per second to 25,000 cubic feet per second in a 24-hour period. Zion National Park was heavily damaged due to the flooding. The town of Washington also reported widespread flooding.

    House colapsing into flooded road

    Bridge colapsing over raging muddy river

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  • Escalante River Flood of 2006

    The flooding of the Escalante River in 2006 resulted in widespread destruction of most of the roads in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Hundreds of people were stranded during the flooding in many of the National Parks and Monuments. Many roads remained unrepaired for up to 5 years. The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument was closed to visitors. The rainfall and runoff from this event caused Lake Powell to rise by 5 feet during this storm. Hanksville was also heavily damaged and irrigation systems were destroyed.

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Flood Hazard Information
  • Flash Flooding

    Flash flooding is a rapid and extreme flow of high water into a normally dry area, or a rapid water level rise in a stream or creek above a predetermined flood level, beginning within six hours of the causative event (i.e., intense rainfall, dam failure, ice jam). More information...

  • River Flooding

    River flooding occurs when river levels rise and overflow their banks or the edges of their main channel and inundate areas that are normally dry. More information...
  • Tropical Systems and Coastal Flooding

    At any time of year, a storm from over the ocean can bring heavy precipitation to the U.S. coasts. Whether such a storm is tropical or not, prolonged periods of heavy precipitation can cause flooding in coastal areas, as well as further inland as the storm moves on shore. More information...

  • Burn Scars/Debris Flows

    Wildfires burn away the vegetation of an area, leaving behind bare ground that tends to repel water. When rain falls, it runs off a burn scar towards a low lying area, sometimes carrying branches, soil and other debris along with it. Without vegetation to hold the soil in place, flooding can produce mud and debris flows. More information...
  • Ice/Debris Jams

    A back-up of water into surrounding areas can occur when a river or stream is blocked by a build-up of ice or other debris. Debris Jam: A back-up of water into surrounding areas can occur when a river or stream is blocked by a build-up of debris. More information...
  • Snowmelt

    Flooding due to snowmelt most often occurs in the spring when rapidly warming temperatures quickly melt the snow. The water runs off the already saturated ground into nearby streams and rivers, causing them to rapidly rise and, in some cases, overflow their banks.More information...
  • Dry Wash

    When heavy rain falls over extremely dry land, the water rushes towards low-lying areas, which may include dried up canyon or river beds. This can quickly turn a dry channel into a raging river.More information...
  • Dam Breaks/Levee Failure

    A break or failure can occur with little to no warning. Most often they are caused by water overtopping the structure, excessive seepage through the surrounding ground, or a structural failure. More information...
Protect Life and Property NWS Forecast Offices and River Forecast Centers (RFC) Covering Utah
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