Washington County Flooding: We’ll Be OK Unless …
Anyone who's been in St. George and Washington County for awhile can likely remember vividly the flooding in 2005 -- rivers changing courses, homes falling into the rushing water, bridges being inundated.
With our snowpack up in the mountains being BIGGER than it was back in 2005, do we need to be worried about that happening again?
Well, probably not. That's according to Washington County Water Conservancy District manager Zac Renstrom, who was on the Andy Griffin Show Wednesday..
"The snow up on Kolob, above Zion National Park, is starting to melt," he said. "But our system is working really well. Even with the temperatures going to 90 degrees, we should be able to handle those high heats."
Renstrom points out that sunshine produces a lot of heat, but also reflects a lot of its energy off of the white snow, making the release of energy (and thus the snowmelt) a relatively gradual process.
"The rivers will run high, and they will run fast, but I believe we will not have any major problems if we don't have a major rain event," Renstrom said.
And that's the big caveat. Renstrom said a "rain event," in April, May or even early June could change everything.
"We're almost 2 1/2 times the average snowpack -- just a massive amount of water just sitting up there," he said. "As we have these warm days, as we get that water through the system, that risk starts to go away. And so if we have a monsoon event in the middle of July, that snow will be gone and it won't be that big a deal."
But until then?
"Until then, there's a loaded gun up there in those mountains," he said.
Renstrom reiterates that no one needs fear flooding at this point. But a two-to-three day warm rainstorm could melt all that snowpack very quickly and we would have a problem. A big problem.
"We'll probably know a week out, and we are much more prepared for flooding than we were back in 2005," he said. "But there are a lot of things that are not in our control. We just hope we don't get that big rain event early on or it could mean big trouble."