Hydrologist optimistic about Salt Lake County runoff picture as thunderstorm threat looms

May 30, 2023, 6:27 AM | Updated: Oct 19, 2023, 10:22 am


This Monday, June 10, 2019, photo shows the Big Cottonwood Creek, in the Big Cottonwood canyon, near Salt Lake City. The summer's melting snowpack is creating raging rivers that are running high, fast and icy cold (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah — A longtime hydrologist expressed optimism Monday about the potential for the county to avoid any further runoff and flooding issues. However, the risk still existed, particularly along Big and Little Cottonwood creeks with an upcoming thunderstorm threat.

Brian McInerney, a hydrologic consultant with Salt Lake City Public Utilities, told KSL the moderate weather in recent weeks had been ideal in a year with record snowpack.

“You couldn’t have scripted a better weather scenario to bring down 200 percent of median river flows that you see right now,” McInerney said.

He said most of the significant creeks in Salt Lake County appear to be trending in a positive direction.

“Emigration (Creek) is roughly out of snow to produce any large, damaging peak flows,” McInerney said. “Red Butte is out of any snow to produce any big flows. City Creek is mostly out of the woods unless we get a big rain event.”

But he said the situation was different for Big and Little Cottonwood creeks.

“If we get hot weather with bright sunshine for a week to 10 days, we could produce some flooding in both of those,” McInerney said.

He noted, however, that the current forecast called for continued moderate temperatures with clouds and the potential for thunderstorms Thursday through the following Wednesday.

According to McInerney, a significant thunderstorm that hits over the Cottonwood canyons could also prove problematic.

“If we get a rain event that puts down an inch to maybe an inch-and-a-half of rain, now we’re up to 4 inches of water coming out of the canyon at once, and those channels can’t handle that.”

However, if the creeks avoid problems in the next two weeks, McInerney said he was hopeful for the future.

“At that point, you have to ask yourself do we have enough snow to produce damaging flows, and I don’t think so,” McInerney said. “I think we’ll be close to melting out enough snow that we won’t have the damaging peak flows.”


We want to hear from you.

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

Utah Flood Watch

The Colorado River is pictured near Moab in Grand County on Friday, April, 26, 2024. (Kristin Murph...

Kyle Remund

Flood watch in effect for portions of eastern Utah

A flood watch covering parts of eastern Utah and western Colorado is in effect from Sunday, June 30th to Monday, July 1st.

22 days ago

Ray and Maranda Ankofski, a Texas couple, reportedly went missing in Grand County, according to off...

Michael Houck, KSL TV

Search for Texas couple has turned into a ‘recovery effort,’ sheriff office says

The search for a couple from Texas who went missing east of Moab has turned into a recovery effort due to evidence found during the search.

22 days ago

Flash floods could appear in Southern Utah on Sunday and Monday. The Virgin River flows through thr...

Kennedy Camarena and Mark Jackson

Southern Utah: Potential for flash floods on Sunday and Monday, some flooding in Capitol Reef reported

The National Weather Service is predicting a potential of flash floods for Southern Utah on Sunday and Monday.

28 days ago

Highway 128 is covered in mud after a severe storm and flooding in the area....

Kyle Remund

Cleanup begins after severe storm in eastern Utah

After a severe storm passed through Grand County, Utah, on Friday, officials are beginning cleanup and mitigation.

29 days ago

The storm surge from Tropical Storm Alberto floods the streets in Surfside Beach, Texas, on Wednesd...

Carter Williams, KSL.com

Flood watch issued for parts of Utah as tropical storm remnants arrive

Parts of Utah will be on a flood watch on June 21 as a tropical storm moves through the state. Flash flooding is also possible on Saturday.

1 month ago

lake powell shown, invasive fish causing issues...

Adam Small

Lake Powell missing 40,000 acre feet of water after accidental release, officials say

Lake Powell is the nation's second-largest reservoir, and it's currently missing up to 40,000-acre feet of water due to a water release.

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

A young woman smiles while reading the menu at a lakeside restaurant, enjoying the panoramic view o...

Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau

The best restaurants to try in Bear Lake

Save this guide to the best restaurants in Bear Lake when you need to find a place to dine during your next visit.

Female leg stepping on weigh scales. Healthy lifestyle, food and sport concept....

Health Utah

Sustainable weight loss: the science-backed way to achieve it

Learn more about Debbie's weight loss journey with Health Utah, who have a unique weight loss philosophy for success.

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...


Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

Hydrologist optimistic about Salt Lake County runoff picture as thunderstorm threat looms