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Davis Journal

Record snowpack conditions compared to floods of 1983

Apr 06, 2023 11:43AM ● By Becky Ginos

John Duncan tries digging out his truck, but abandons the project waiting for the predicted warm weather. The heavy snow has caused some concern about potential flooding. Photo by Roger V. Tuttle

DAVIS COUNTY—It was 40 years ago in May that flooding turned downtown State Street into a river and people were sandbagging everywhere. With record snow storms hitting the area there are concerns of a repeat of 1983. County and city leaders are waiting and watching but believe they are prepared.

“The state did a lot of things to deal with runoff,” said Commission Chair Lorene Kamalu. “They tasked the county to put in additional infrastructure for flood control. Those have been in place and have been tested and they have performed well.”

Those are maintained year round, she said. “They’re making rounds constantly to those flood control channels.”

“Significant work has been done to upgrade infrastructure throughout the county in an effort to mitigate flood flows and reduce the possibility of flooding,” a Davis County Commission release said. “In 2011 snowpack levels were similar to this year’s and there was no notable flooding. However, moisture is still accruing.”

“We’re optimistic about the snow melting,” said Bountiful City Manager Gary Hill. “There is a major culvert system in the natural stream beds that runs through the canyons that go to the retention basins.”

Waterways are managed and monitored by Davis County, he said. “We work closely with the county to check those on a regular basis to make sure the inlets are clear of debris. On the city’s end we regularly monitor and clean out storm drain inlets.”

Hill said their major concern now is if there is a large rainstorm. “We get them in August sometimes but they don’t typically happen this time of year. It could potentially affect the drain storm and create flooding but that is a small chance since we have the culverts.”

It’s melting beautifully just like it’s supposed to, he said. “In ‘83 there was snow and the temperature jumped to the low 80s overnight. Even in that scenario because of what’s in place I don’t think it will be a problem.”

Kamalu said it’s important that residents do their part. “‘Free the debris.’ They need to make sure that their belongings are picked up and clear the path for water flows so it doesn’t block the channels.”

The county suggests the following things property owners can do to reduce the impacts of flooding:

• Keep children and pets away from flood control channels.

• Keep debris and floatables away from the stream banks. Chairs, tables, fire pits and fire wood, garden tools, toys and equipment can all be carried away by high water flows. If this debris collects at the entrance of a culvert downstream, it can block the water from being able to pass into the culvert. At that point the water has nowhere to go except for out of its designated banks.

• Use sandbags to protect your doorways and window wells. Remove sandbags once flood flows have slowed down.

Residents need to know what to do to protect their homes, said Kamalu. “Watch for places where you’ve noticed before that water wants to go like window wells.”

Bountiful City is offering sandbags to residents who want them. “They can fill up to 12 bags and we have sand available,” said Hill. “If there is a problem in the spring we can quickly deploy sandbags and we’re working with the emergency preparedness team who can get mobilized quickly if they need to. We’re very comfortable where things stand right now.”

The community is incredible, he said. “They respond whether it’s a storm or anything else.” λ