Spring runoff causes fast-moving rivers, officials urge caution

Apr 22, 2024, 12:45 PM | Updated: Apr 23, 2024, 1:26 pm

High amounts of spring runoff cause swelling of rivers across the state....

As temperatures are getting higher and spring runoff, most local streams and rivers are running high and fast. Those looking to watch or spend time around them should exercise caution and keep children and pets away from the water's edge. (Photo by Brian Brinkerhoff)

(Photo by Brian Brinkerhoff)

SALT LAKE CITY— Spring runoff is in full effect in Utah, and subsequently the state’s rivers, streams and creeks are running high and fast.

According to the KSL River Flow Tracker, 10 of northern Utah’s waterways have risen to at least 75% of their bank’s capacity sometime in the last five days. For context, a waterway is not flooding until it’s running over 100%.

In other words, by the publication date, no Utah waterway had come close to flooding.

But there’s still a lot of spring runoff to go.

Right now, on average, Utah currently has 12.7 inches of water in the statewide snowpack. That’s down from the yearly peak of 18.8 inches on April 2, 2024.

Over the last 30 years, Utah on average doesn’t finish melting all of the snowpack until mid-June.

Glen Merrill, hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City, told KSL NewsRadio the state will likely see waterways connected to lower elevation snowpack peak sometime between now and early May.

Waterways connected to higher elevation snowpack, for example, Big and Little Cottonwood Creeks and the Provo River, likely won’t peak until late May and early June.

Staying safe around runoff waters in Utah

It may look tempting, but Merrill said physically getting in the fast-moving water we’re seeing right now is not recommended.

“This time of year, just let the water do its thing,” Merrill said. “It was snow just a few days ago … the water temperatures are in the 30’s.”

Merrill also said much of this water is moving at hundreds of cubic feet per second.

“It’s really a public safety hazard,” Merrill said.

Merrill encouraged people to put plenty of space between themselves and the water. Don’t stand right on the edge of the bank because water could be undercutting it, making it unstable.

He also advised people to keep a close eye on young kids and pets.

“We just need to give them a wide berth and be smart.”

Related: Salt Lake having very dry April, but Utah’s water supply is still in top-notch shape

We want to hear from you.

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

Utah Drought

Multi-directional sprinkler system (canva)...

Mitchell von Puttkammer

Water conservation in your Utah garden

Water conservation in a Utah garden can include installing smart sprinkler systems. And the state can help defray the cost!

5 hours ago

Southern arm of Great Salt Lake...

Carter Williams, KSL.com

Great Salt Lake’s southern arm reaches ‘significant’ level as spring rise slows down

The southern arm of Great Salt Lake reached an optimal level this week however, experts believe the lake will recede this summer.

10 days ago

FILE: The Colorado River is pictured near Moab in Grand County on Friday, April, 26, 2024....

Adam Small

New study suggests climate change could help Colorado River

University of Colorado at Boulder researchers predict that climate change will increase precipitation in Upper Basin states like Utah.

15 days ago

great salt lake shown, lithium in the lake is attracting companies...

Adam Small

Great Salt Lake level reaches seven-year high

Great Salt Lake now sits at 4,195.1 feet above sea level, more than 6.5 feet higher than its all-time historic low in late 2022.

16 days ago

Deer Creek Reservoir in Wasatch County pictured....

Allessandra Harris Gurr

Average Utah reservoir level 30% higher than last year

The average reservoir in Utah is at 88% capacity or 30% higher than last year.

16 days ago

A man, who asked not to be named, walks with his umbrella under snow-covered trees at Liberty Park ...

Alexandrea Bonilla

Utah’s latest spring storm slows snowmelt, adds to snowpack

Some areas of Salt Lake County saw two inches of snow from this late spring storm in Utah.

18 days ago

Sponsored Articles

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.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Spring runoff causes fast-moving rivers, officials urge caution