Southern Utah officials heaved a giant sigh of relief Wednesday when the Santa Clara River subsided, eliminating the threat of floods.
But the storm system that hit Utah Tuesday blew off part of the roof at Fillmore Elementary School and caused Salt Lakers to slosh through puddles on their way to work Wednesday morning.There were no injuries in Fillmore, and conditions were back to normal Wednesday in Washington County, where officials had been closely monitoring the river. It had backed up behind two dams after warm spring rains fell Tuesday afternoon, melting snowpack.
Tony Hafen, Washington County emergency management director, said the rainstorm melted enough snow to cause water to pour out overflow spillways at both Baker and Gunlock dams. The water was also tearing out growth along riverbanks, although homeowners along the river were in no danger.
"This is the most water we have seen in the creek in five or six years," Hafen said. Rain started falling about 4 p.m. and lasted about two hours.
The two dams are located about eight or nine miles apart on the river, which is fed by snowpack in a mountainous river region near Dixie National Forest. Baker Dam is located about 18 miles northwest of St. George.
A recent Deseret News survey of dams show that Baker Dam has been rated unsafe by the Army Corps of Engineers and state dam safety engineer. Gunlock Dam was not rated by the corps but given a safe rating by the state dam safety engineer.
Southern Utah wasn't the only spot to feel Mother Nature's damp chill.
William J. Alder, meteorologist in charge at the Salt Lake office of the National Weather Service, said the spring storm dropped .95 inch at the Salt Lake International Airport; .34 in Holladay; .63 at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon; .71 in Bountiful; and .97 in North Salt Lake.
The month's total at the airport is 1.3 inch. Normal total for May is 1.47.