Live on a bench? Be on the lookout for mudslides amid Utah spring runoff

Apr 18, 2023, 6:00 AM | Updated: 9:47 am

people are pictured working next to a mudslide...

A mudslide in Morgan County forced four people out of their homes over the weekend. (Mountain Green Fire Protection District)

(Mountain Green Fire Protection District)

SALT LAKE CITY — As this year’s record snowpack melts and runs down the mountains, we’ll not only have to worry about floods but mudslides too. A mudslide already forced four people in two different homes to evacuate in Mountain Green over the weekend.

This year is not the first time we’ve seen an entire patch of landslide. In 2014, a North Salt Lake home was destroyed by a mudslide caused by rainfall. 

However, this year stands apart from the 2014 slide. 

KSL Meteorologist Matt Johnson said that this year is different, the spring runoff is affecting the soil, not the rain.

“(Water) saturates the soil to the point that it liquefies, it can’t hold…(or) absorb any more water,” Johnson said.

Johnson said mudslides can cause serious damage to a home.

The water content in the soil is a big reason why we don’t always see them along the Wasatch Front.

What areas are at risk?

Johnson said it’s hard to tell when and where a mudslide will hit along the Wasatch Front, particularly because of our soil which is primarily made up of old lake bed.

“Lake Bonneville covered…all of the Wasatch Front thousands of years ago,” Johnson said. “You go ahead and build on that…the land is going to be more available to slide.”

In short, Johnson said to be more vigilant if you live on a bench, particularly near or against a steep slope.

Unfortunately, there is only so much that can be done to stop a massive chunk of land from shifting, but people should keep a watchful eye.

“We need to be…on alert for the next couple of months,” Johnson said.


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Live on a bench? Be on the lookout for mudslides amid Utah spring runoff