Heavy rain causes flash flooding, mudslides and closures

Aug 8, 2019, 8:43 PM | Updated: Aug 3, 2022, 2:33 pm

flash flooding mudslide canyon...

Crews finish removing debris from Highway 89 following a mudslide in Spanish Fork Canyon near Thistle on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019. Photo: Colter Peterson, Deseret News

UTAH COUNTY, Utah — Heavy rain caused flash flooding and mudslides in Spanish Fork Canyon, Payson Canyon and in Little Cottonwood Canyon, and UDOT now says it may be Friday evening before US 6 is reopened between the Thistle Junction and Helper.

Nine mudslides closed Little Cottonwood Canyon around 8:00 p.m. Thursday. The Utah Department of Transportation expects the highway to stay closed until at least Friday evening.

UPD Sgt. Ken Hansen says, thankfully, cell service was good in the area between Tanners Flat and Gate B, and he did not believe there were any injuries.

UDOT Roadway Operations Manager Jake Brown says large trees and car-sized boulders tumbled onto the highway. He says he has never seen anything like this in 18 years on the job.

“The whole draw up above us where this equipment is working [to clear the road] is completely emptied out. It’s unbelievable how much material was moved by water,” Brown says.

One of the mudslides also uncovered a high pressure gas line.

“Our culvert filled in and was basically non-functioning. The water came over the road and washed out the hillside, which exposed the high pressure gas line,” Brown says.

The line is not punctured, so it will be reburied.

South Jordan resident Ashley Hanks told KSL NewsRadio she encountered several mudslides in Little Cottonwood Canyon before getting stuck heading back to Snowbird.

“We made it just fine through a few smaller flooded areas with rocks, but as soon as we came to the section where the floods just flashed right in front of us, there was a car in front of me so we just stopped, and it started getting wider, coming faster up the canyon, so I reversed and flipped back around, deciding to go back up toward Snowbird, only to run into another mudslide near Tanner’s Flat,” according to Hanks.

She says she got out, wondering what she would do next. Another mudslide stopped her about a mile up the road.  She says about 30 minutes later, a sheriff’s deputy led the way as about ten cars followed toward Snowbird where she and her kids finally made it to safety for the night.

None of the cars trapped between those two mudslides were damaged. People who were evacuated to Snowbird were able to drive home Friday morning.

Meanwhile, in Utah County, UDOT says a section of Spanish Fork Canyon west of Tie Fork rest area is expected to remain closed until possibly 6 p.m. Friday.  Utah County Sheriff’s spokesman Spencer Cannon says as much as four feet of mud came across the roadway near MP 202.

In Elk Ridge, some homes were evacuated in Loafer Canyon due to flash floods about 7:30 p.m.  A group of people were stranded up in a cabin, unharmed, due to mudslides reported there.

Cannon says there were no injuries reported in Payson Canyon above the Grotto after some people got stranded above a mudslide, and were not believed to be in harm’s way. Payson Canyon had reopened by late Friday afternoon.

Additional Reporting: Kelli Pierce and Lindsay Aerts

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


Jordan Thorpe scrapes snow off his windshield after the first snow of the season in the valley in S...

Carter Williams,

Warnings, advisories issued as ‘significant’ winter storms heads toward Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — Federal forecasters issued a series of winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories across Utah on Thursday, ahead of a “significant” winter storm with the potential to dump more than 2 feet of snow in the mountains this weekend. The Wasatch Mountains and Wasatch Back communities are expected to receive the […]

7 hours ago

man with shovel demonstrates depth of utah snowpack...

Becky Bruce

Utah snowpack below normal, reservoirs above average

With about 125 days left until Utah typically reaches its peak snowpack for the water year, which began Oct. 1, we're off to a slow start.

12 hours ago

Air pollution over SLC...

Adam Small

A storm and inversion relief is on its way to Utah

A winter storm is headed to Utah this week. Meteorologists think Utah's will get relief from the inversion.

20 hours ago

Smog settles over Salt Lake City during an inversion on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. With Utah's winte...

Allessandra Harris & Devin Oldroyd

Inversion may worsen this week, NWS says

With Utah's wintery temperatures this week, there will also be some inversion patterns and low air quality in the valleys.

3 days ago

snow on a mountain...

Adam Small

Snow is on its ways to northern Utah valleys, could impact Thanksgiving travel

KSL Meteorologist Matt Johnson said the Wasatch Front will see a mix of rain and snow Thursday afternoon, but it'll turn to mostly snow in the nighttime.

9 days ago

SALT LAKE CITY — The National Weather Services on Friday issued a series of winter storm watches...

Carter Williams

Winter storm watch issued for Utah’s mountains with ‘significant’ snow in forecast

The first big snowstorm of the season appears to be heading Utah's way.

13 days ago

Sponsored Articles

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

Aerial photo of Bear Lake shoreline with canopies and people camped out on the beach...

Visit Bear Lake

Last-Minute Summer Vacation Planning? Check Out Bear Lake!

Bear Lake is the perfect getaway if you are last-minute summer vacation planning. Enjoy activities with your whole family at this iconic lake.

Heavy rain causes flash flooding, mudslides and closures