Emergency Management - Utah Hazards - Floods
Heavy Snowpack Raises Concern for Spring Flooding
Reports suggest that flooding is one of the most common natural disasters in the United States, killing an average of 110 people and costing an average of $3.7 billion each year.
Winter '08 has brough plenty of snow ot Utah. This year along the Wasatch Front, some mountain areas are at 140 percent of normal snowpack. In southern Utah it goes as high as 200 percent. Snow can hold a lot of water. Each cubic foot of drifted, piled or compacted snow may contain gallons of water. If you take action now, you can prevent snow from becoming a flooding problem.
- Make sure downspouts carry water several feet from your house to a well-drained area. About 2,500 gallons of water will come from a 1,000 square foot roof with one foot of snow depth across the roof. This much water may cause problems if allowed to drain next to the house.
- Move snow on the ground away from the house. Water from the snow may cause a wet basement if allowed to run down along the basement wall. If the ground is sloped 1 inch per foot near the house, moving the snow just 3-5 feet from the house will reduce problems.
- If you have a sump pump, examine and clean it. Test your sump pump by pouring water into the pit. Make sure the discharge hose carries the water several feet away from the house to a well-drained area. Also make sure that the pipe is on sloped ground so it drains to prevent it from freezing.
- Remove snow from around rural yards to minimize soft, wet soil conditions. Remember that a 20-foot diameter 10-foot high pile of snow contains about 2,600 gallons of water. Move the snow to well drained areas.
- Keep important documents including insurance policies, birth certificates and passports in a waterproof box where you can easily access them.
- Make sure you have flood insurance; most home owners' insurance will not reimburse you for flood damage.
- Have a family plan. If the flood is bad enough that it forces an evacuation of your home, make sure your family knows where to go. Also establish a contact in case your family is separated during an evacuation, and that each person has the contacts' phone numbers.
There are several resources for finding blood information for your area:
- FEMA's Floodsmart Program: www.floodsmart.gov
- NOAA Climat Predictions Center: www.cpc.noaa.gov
- Utah Division of Water Resources: www.water.utah.gov
- Utah Dam Safety: www.waterrights.utah.gov
- Utah Division of Water Rights: nrwrtl.nr.state.ut.u
- Colorado Basin River Forecast Center (CBRFC): www.wrh.noaa.gov/slc/
- SL National Weather Service - Surface Observations in Utah and Surrounding Areas: www.wrh.noaa.gov/slc
- Grand Junction, CO National Weather Service: www.crh.noaa.gov/gjt/
- Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) - Utah Snow Survey: www.ut.nrcs.usda.gov
- US Geological Survey (USGS) - Water Watch: water.usgs.gov
- USGS - Utah Flood Activity Log: Utah Flood Activity Log
- Utah Geological Survey - UGS, Landslide/Debris Flow/Rock Falls: UGS
- US Bureau of Reclamation (USBR): USBR