Zion National Park flash flood and mudslide cause shuttles to close


Officials said Wednesday that cleanup efforts had only just begun on the widespread damage to Zion National Park and Springdale from flash floods caused by thunderstorms.

Park officials said in a press release that the SR-9 and the two park entrances were open on Wednesday, but that “motorists should exercise caution” and warn travelers who do not need to cross the park. area to stay away.

“Visitors should expect traffic delays, debris on the roads, and potential trail and parking lot closures as the cleanup continues and the damage is assessed,” the statement said.

The popular Watchman Trail near the south entrance to the park was closed due to damage to the trail and the status of some of the park’s services and amenities was unclear.

In an early morning press release, the park said the Zion Canyon visitor center, park store, and park and city shuttle operations were open. However, a tweet around 8 a.m. indicated that the Springdale shuttle had been temporarily suspended while the road was clear.

There was limited parking for oversized vehicles, so visitors were advised to park in Springdale along Lion Boulevard and other areas.

Further warnings from the National Weather Service on Wednesday suggested flash floods were likely in Sion, as well as in Capitol Reef National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

“Remember that slit canyons, slippery rocky areas and normally dry washouts are the worst places to be during thunderstorms,” the agency reported in a tweet.

The town of Springdale shared a video on Facebook of an excavator digging large boulders off the road, cleaning up the wash.

“These are some of the rocks that came down and blocked the wash. Rocks from the Interstate went up and cleaned up the wash. Thank you Justin for your skills,” the city said in the post.

The park received more than an inch of rain in the span of an hour on Tuesday, officials said, with a search and rescue team called in to help close State Route 9, the road that crosses the section. main park, and to respond to emergency calls.

Photographs by park officials showed roads inundated with mud and debris, with chunks of asphalt broken in places and rocks lying on the pavement.

The Utah Department of Transportation announced via Twitter around 3 p.m. Tuesday that National Highway 9 to Zion was closed in both directions between Rockville and the park due to flooding and remained closed until evening.

Previous coverage:Zion National Park, inundated with an inch of rain per hour, battles road closures

Alternate east and west routes were available via Route 59 from Hurricane, Utah, to Fredonia, Arizona, and Route 14 from Cedar City, Utah, to Long Valley Junction and Route 89.

UDOT encouraged visitors to consult the UDOT maps and website before returning to travel to the region.

“The crews have a lot to do. Flash flood season has arrived in southern Utah,” UDOT region four tweeted with photos of red sand and water flooding the main road in Springdale.

Park officials reminded the public that the monsoon season runs from mid-July to September, when flash floods can occur without warning, so plan ahead and be prepared for a “wide range. weather conditions ”.

“Flash floods, often caused by storms miles away, are a very real danger and can be life threatening,” the statement said on Wednesday. “Three essential steps to flash flood safety are: get to higher ground, stay out of the water and stay informed. When an area is flooded, turn around, don’t drown. “

Park officials were not immediately available to provide more information on search and rescue operations and damage estimates.

No additional information was currently available.

K. Sophie Will is the National Parks reporter for The Spectrum & Daily News for the GroundTruth Project’s Report for America initiative. Follow her on Twitter at @ksophiewill or email him at [email protected] Donate to Report for America here.

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