Park City streams shouldn’t jump banks during runoff, expert says |

Park City streams shouldn’t jump banks during runoff, expert says

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

There is not a significant threat of flooding in the Park City area during the snowmelt this year, a National Weather Service expert said at the beginning of the week, but the chances could increase if the spring continues to be cool and wet.

Brian McInerney, a hyrdologist with the National Weather Service, the local stream flow is expected to peak in the third week of May. The streams have already started to pick up, McInerney said, and snowy weather is expected later in the week.

He said the snow pack in the Park City area was 96 percent of normal at the beginning of the week. The local snow pack has climbed in recent weeks as a series of late-season snowstorms struck the Park City area, and the numbers would push higher if there is additional snow later this week.

McInerney, though, said the chances of floods in the Park City area are "low." He explained that the moisture content of the soil is low, meaning that more of the water from snow melt will be absorbed into the ground instead of flowing into the streams.

There are two stream channels — Poison Creek and McLeod Creek — inside the Park City limits that McInerney and City Hall officials monitor. Poison Creek runs from the mountains south of Old Town, through the eastern edge of the neighborhood and hugs Bonanza Drive as it exits Park City along the Rail Trail. McLeod Creek runs out of Park City roughly along the S.R. 224 corridor.

McInerney said the streams will be running fast with frigid water. He said adults should closely watch kids when they are near the streams. The frigid water could kill someone if they fell into a creek, he said.

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There are spots along the route that are inundated during the snowmelt, but major unexpected flooding along the routes is rare. Poison Creek a few years ago jumped its banks and flooded a few houses along upper Main Street. That flood was blamed on a heavy thunderstorm and debris blocking the stream channel, though, not on snowmelt.

City Hall, meanwhile, has asked regular Parkites to guard against flooding this spring and said municipal workers are clearing debris in stream channels. A recent statement released by City Hall indicated the late-season snow increased the risk.

The statement said city workers will respond to what City Hall described as "major flood emergencies" but not "minor flooding incidents on private property." The statement suggests people with property on or near stream channels take precautions.

They include:

Clearing debris like twigs and low-hanging branches from the channel

Checking culverts for objects that would obstruct the water flow

Clearing the space around storm drains that water flows into

Removing rocks in stream channels that could block the natural flow of the water

Checking sump pumps to ensure they are working properly

The Public Works Department has sandbags available for Park City residents or people with businesses inside the city. The first 25 filled sandbags are free. The Public Works Department charges 75 cents for each filled sandbag between 26 and 50. People wanting more than 50 from the department are charged 50 cents for each bag and they must fill the bags themselves.

The sandbags are available at the Public Works Building, 1053 Iron Horse Drive, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Officials want Park City residents to report floods to the Public Works Department, 615-5301, during regular business hours and to the Police Department, 615-5500, during nights and weekends.