As a snowy winter looks to be slowing down, Tooele County Emergency Management is keeping a careful eye on the snow on the county’s peaks.
By the end of January, the overall snow-water equivalent for the county was 173 percent of median, according to local SnoTel sites. How quickly that snowpack melts and heads down from the peaks will be closely monitored, according to TCEM director Bucky Whitehouse.
“Right now, we’re just very concerned of what Mother Nature is bringing us in terms of weather,” Whitehouse said.
If a sudden increase in temperatures above the snowline occurs there is the possibility of flooding in the valleys, according to Whitehouse. Another concern would be heavy rainfall on the snowpack, which could greatly increase the amount of water flowing into reservoirs, soil and other natural barriers before entering the valley.
The last significant high water flow event in Tooele or Grantsville City occurred in 2011.
Due to drier conditions before the current winter, the county’s reservoirs remain well below capacity, which should aid absorption of the spring snowmelt. At the end of January, Grantsville Reservoir was at 18 percent capacity, with Vernon at 23 percent capacity and Settlement at 30 percent capacity.
Whitehouse said local government agencies are evaluating areas where mountain flows enter the valley to determine if debris needs to be removed to allow proper water flow.
Whitehouse said people in flood prone areas should discuss options with their homeowner’s insurance to make sure their home is adequately protected. He also encouraged Tooele County residents to sign up for the AlertSense app from TCEM, which includes information on potential flood watches, advisories or warnings.
While Whitehouse said it’s difficult to tell whether there will be flood events in Tooele County this year, he said the county is preparing sandbags that will be deployed throughout the county to strategic locations.
Whitehouse said there has been increased interest from the community about sand bags and while there is a stockpile of prepared bags, TCEM has empty bags and is looking to volunteer groups to sign up to quickly fill sandbags in case of flooding.
For residents looking for more information on flood prevention and preparation, Whitehouse encouraged them to get copies of publications on the topic at the Emergency Operations Center at 15 E. 100 South in Tooele.