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Climate experts weigh in on recent monsoonal rain and flash flooding


SALT LAKE CITY — The recent pattern of monsoonal rain and widespread flash flooding is nothing new to Utah, according to climate experts. 

We are experiencing a true monsoon season this year, something Utah hasn’t had for the last couple of years. That is behind the recent wave of heavy rain and flash-flooding. 

However, Utah is no stranger to flash flooding. In fact, it’s more common than we might think. 

“The last 5 to 10 years, we haven’t really had the amazing, incredible monsoon season,” Dr. Jon Meyer, a climatologist with the Utah Climate Center at Utah State University explained. “If we were to go back over 100 years, this type of pattern is most likely not going to be unusual in the long-term context of it.” 

Some rain and flooding stand out 

What might be different this year is seeing flash flooding in different areas than we normally expect. 

“Not just in the slot canyons like we’re used to seeing every July and August, but in many of these urban areas as well,” said Dr. Meyer.

He said there is also another way this year is flipping the script: the persistence of the storms.

“Which of course has produced all these amazing flash flood events that have caused havoc and damage across the state,” Dr. Meyer said. 

The drought is still problematic

Despite the heavy localized rain and flash flooding, it has only made a small dent in the Utah drought. He agrees with hydrologists who say it will take an above-average winter, or several of them, to truly pull us from the seemingly permanent drought.