Utah Flash Floods

Sep 15th, 2015, 05:05 PM
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Utah Flash Floods

I assume many of you have seen and heard about the deadly flash floods in southern Utah yesterday evening and today. So far they know 14 people have been killed and there are several more missing.

I answer questions about Utah often and am always trying to alert visitors to the need to be informed of current weather conditions, take gallons and gallons of water ,etc., etc. This very sad day is why.

Many people come to the National Parks and the southwest wilderness regions thinking they are going to Disneyland. They are not. The beautiful arches and slot canyons, hoodoos and goblins were created by wind and water. Remember that and come educated aware and prepared so you can have a good time! Don't make mistakes that could cost you your life.

Send your good thoughts to the families affected and travel safely!
Dayle is offline  
Sep 15th, 2015, 05:47 PM
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So sad to hear about.
emalloy is offline  
Sep 15th, 2015, 10:38 PM
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The water comes all at once, like a wall of water moving downstream.Dayle is giving a needed warning to those visiting tne southwest, especially during monsoon season.
HappyTrvlr is online now  
Sep 16th, 2015, 03:15 AM
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Good warnings, Dayle.

I lived in New Mexico when I was a kid. People used to say that it isn't the storm that you see that kills you but the heavier storm way up the arroyo that you don't see. So, if there is rain in the area but not where you are, you may well be in danger.

I understand that the NPS had issued warnings but four people still died in Arches in addition to the [mostly] children in Hildale, who were supposedly returning home after having been taken to a park to view the high water.
Ackislander is offline  
Sep 16th, 2015, 05:06 AM
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Yes, good warnings.

It is something, though, that is hard to really visualize unless you see it firsthand. Which we did, back in 2009 in Sedona. By the grace of perhaps a minute or two we avoided being swept away on a dirt road leading out of a trailhead; and we only one car back from turning into the parking lot at Tlaquepaque (where we were staying) before devastation overtook it. The absolute suddenness is almost unimaginable. The transition from rain to flood occurs in the blink of an eye. Truly, "flash flood" is an accurate term.

My thoughts and prayers are with those poor people.
sludick is online now  
Sep 16th, 2015, 07:19 AM
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Yes, how crazy of the canyoneers to proceed when they were warned that flash flooding of the narrow canyon was "likely". It is one thing to be caught unaware but to be warned and still go...just plain stupid.

"The group of four men and three women from California and Nevada picked up their permit to go through the canyon about 7:30 a.m. on Monday, despite rangers' warnings that the flash flood danger was "probable," said park spokeswoman Aly Baltrus."

peterboy is offline  
Sep 16th, 2015, 07:45 AM
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I think people just don't realize how dangerous water can be, even if they are warned about it.

When we lived in Arizona, a man drowned in his car in an arroyo just behind the Starbucks we went to in Tucson. It wasn't a remote area, he was not adventuring, there had not been an unprecedented amount of rain: he just tried to drive across an arroyo full of rushing water and got swept away just like that.

A flash flood is even harder to grasp, as everything looks fine until it's not.

When the authorities give warnings, listen!
NewbE is offline  
Sep 16th, 2015, 07:57 AM
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>>A flash flood is even harder to grasp, as everything looks fine until it's not.<<

Perfectly put. My memory was that everything seemed normal, and then came the realization that we were in the middle of a catastrophe with no way out. Unbelievable.
sludick is online now  
Sep 16th, 2015, 08:48 AM
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>>Yes, how crazy of the canyoneers to proceed when they were warned that flash flooding of the narrow canyon was "likely".<<

Very true. Yet it's also a bit crazy that they were issued a permit to do this considering they were inexperienced and rangers knew their has a high likelihood of flooding.

I wouldn't get issued a permit to go backpacking if there was a known forest fire. Why would they continue to issue permits to inexperienced canyoneers knowing there was a high risk of flooding?
WhereAreWe is offline  
Sep 16th, 2015, 09:03 AM
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I don't know enough about the facts of the story to say whether the permit should not have been issued.

I will say that people can be surprisingly naive about the dangers Mother Nature can pose. When I volunteered at a preserve we had people complain that canyon trails weren't handicapped-accessible; ask (more than once, believe it or not) if the trails had been cleared of snakes, also bears, also tarantulas and scorpions; and so on.

Maybe we should understand that the issuance of a permit does not mean that there is no danger?
NewbE is offline  
Sep 16th, 2015, 09:55 AM
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So glad to see you post! I was thinking about you guys and wondered if you were in the middle of your trip, home now? I hope you had a good time!
Dayle is offline  
Sep 16th, 2015, 12:32 PM
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Yes, we're home now. We were in and near Colorado City last Thursday hiking and driving back roads (through many washes) with a local friend to remote rock art sites...places I would never have attempted and could not find again. We were very lucky with the weather. Since we usually visit during monsoon season, we are hyper aware of the weather and DO NOT take chances. That said, we did camp in Valley of the Gods and there was a strong storm off to the east that moved around to the north of us. We were on higher ground but knew there was a possibility we'd be trapped if the wash between us and the road flooded. It was only our second day so we were well provisioned and even had cell coverage. We watched the radar intently until we went to sleep. The storm stayed east...thankfully. There were storms all around us for the entire trip but never on us except when we were in a hotel in Durango...but never when we were camped It was dry when we were in the Colorado City area but all hell broke loose after we left. My guardian spirits were watching over us.
peterboy is offline  
Sep 16th, 2015, 05:49 PM
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Very glad you had a good trip. It sounds like you were doing some real exploring. We had a very rainy July, then dry August. This heavy rain just came in this week. Not just your usual summer thunderstorms!

I know you are very aware of the desert's quick changes. I'm glad the weather held for you.

Maybe next time we have to get you and Sharondi up to Park City for a few days.
Dayle is offline  
Sep 17th, 2015, 07:18 AM
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Today's paper reported that the rangers talked to the group extensively and did their best to talk them out of going. Turns out the NPS cannot legally stop someone from going into the canyon once they issue the permit. And...they can't stop issuing there permits until the National Weather (Agency..something like that??) issues an emergency weather alert. That alert did not get issued until it actually started raining and by then, the group was in the canyon.

So far, they have found all but one of the bodies. The rangers and other rescue personnel have had to suspend efforts due to continued rain. They haven't even been able to get into the slot canyon to look because of the water danger. (The bodies were mostly found downstream/out of the canyon)

Very sad for all involved.
StantonHyde is offline  
Sep 18th, 2015, 01:04 PM
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I, too, was wondering why the rangers didn't just prohibit them from going but your post explains why, StantonHyde. Thank you.

Such a tragedy.
panecott is offline  
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