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Snowpack runoff will lead to dangerous creeks in May

BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah (ABC4- Utah) Strong runoff will lead to raising creek water and dangerous conditions toward the end of May.

BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah (ABC4- Utah) As temperatures rise, water levels in creeks and canyons become dangerously high.

As of the first week of May, snowpack along the Wasatch Front is melting at a rate of 0.5” per day.

“Every year someone drowns in our rivers and streams due to runoff,” said Brian McInerney, a Hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City.

McInerney said by the end of May the melting rate will double to an inch per day.

"What might be calm one time of year, from one day to the next, can be violently different the next day,” said Desmond Johnson, Public Information Officer with Unified Fire and a Swift Water Rescue team member. “Just the forces of the water can be unpredictable. Even wearing protective equipment and gear, it's still cold.”

With snowpack runoff, it takes less than two minutes for hypothermia to set in.

“The farther north you to, there's more snow which means those streams and rivers are going to become even higher,” said McInerney.

Areas to watch out for include Logan, Uintas, and the Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons.

“Watch your kids incredibly close and be vigilant when you're around those streams,” said McInerney. “This water is moving so fast that if a dog goes in, he'd be swept away really fast.” 

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