2005 Flash Flood

Flash Floods in the Southwestern US Deserts

On September 9, 2014, a flash flood wiped out a section of I-15 in a remote area between St George, Utah, and Las Vegas, Nevada, causing an up-to-ten-hour-200-mile detour on the direct route from Denver, Salt Lake City, and other points north and east, to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, and other points south and west, in this rugged mountainous area where very few roads exist.

A midnight flash flood on Autust 4, 2014, pinned a family of 13 from Las Vegas against a southern Utah canyon wall over the weekend as rushing water pulled their tents, minivan, and two other cars downstream.

On August 2, 2013, two simultaneous flash floods at Page, Arizona - one washed out chunks of payment and piled up to two feet of mud on US89, while about 3 miles east a second flash flood washed through upper Antelope Canyon.

In 2010, several tourists were stranded on a ledge when two flash floods occurred at Upper Antelope Canyon.

On August 12, 1997, eleven tourists were killed in Lower Antelope Canyon by a flash flood.

On April 12, 1995, heavy rains triggered a landslide that blocked the Virgin River in Zion Canyon; over a period of two hours, the river carved away part of the only exit road from the canyon, trapping 450 guests and employees at the Zion Lodge.

Why does this happen, what causes it?

Water run-off from mountains and hills can aggregate quickly over the crunchy inorganic soil that has mineral and calcium carbonate content in the sparsely populated desert bereft of softer soils, vegetation, and storm sewers found in the more populous areas.  This is an under-stated observation devoid of the necessary geology, but will suffice for the pupose of this article.  An interesting fact about desert floods is that they can occur miles away from the storm - a photo of an Antelope Canyon flash flood under blue skies is in the gallery.  Flash flood danger is inherent in southwestern US deserts between the Rocky Mountains on the east to the Pacific coastal ranges on the west from atorm cells with heavy rain and during the monsoon season.

The Photo Gallery contains photos of floods in St George, Utah, in 2014 and 2005, a video of simultaneous flash floods at Page, Arizona, one of which flows across US89, through a Maverik station, and down Lake Powell Blvd into the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam, the other under AZ98 through Antelope Canyon into Lake Powell above the dam, and other photos that are associated with flash floods.
View Photos is an auto-show of the photos with a link at the end to the Antelope Canyon/US89 flash flood video.