A major storm has battered southern Nevada, northwestern Arizona, and southwestern Utah with heavy rains since Friday December 17th, 2010. As much as 4 inches of rain have fallen on Mesquite, NV, causing the Virgin River to surge over its banks. New Harmony, UT has been evacuated, and officials there expected the Harmony Heights Bridge to wash away at any time, although the latest report indicates the threat to the bridge has receded. There are also small breaks in the privately owned Trees Ranch Dam, also known as the South Creek Dam, on the east fork of the Virgin River near the south end of Springdale. The town of Rockville was evacuated, but the threat seems to have receded. But if the dam was to breach, Rockville, Virgin, possible areas of La Verkin down by Pah Tempe hot springs, as well as Washington, subdivisions near the Virgin River, and areas of St. George could be affected. St. George would have ample time to respond.
A map HERE shows the area impacted.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal captured some dramatic video of a house tumbling into the rain-swollen Beaver Dam Wash at the Beaver Dam Resort in Littlefield, Arizona. Littlefield is in the extreme northwest corner of the state; there are no direct road links between it and the rest of the state. One must drive into Nevada or Utah to connect Littlefield with the rest of Arizona. The Associated Press picked up the video and uploaded it to YouTube:
Deseret News gallery of 10 photos available HERE.
A total of five homes have been washed away, and nearly two dozen homes have been damaged in this subdivision of 180 homes and trailers. The five lost homes were valued at around $220,000 each.
The same wash flooded in 2005; more than 20 homes in the area were damaged or destroyed that year. About 40 homes and garages in nearby Mesquite also were damaged. County officials say after the floods of 2005 they made improvements to areas at risk for flooding, but only so much can be done to prepare for rivers as swollen as this.
Short term news is not good. Brian McInerney, hydrologist with the National Weather Service, said the state, especially southern Utah, should hunker down over the next 36 hours. "The key is the storm is not done yet," he said. "It is not going to stop anytime soon." The National Weather Service website shows the latest advisories and warnings for the area.