October 5, 2008

Storm Delivers a Soggy Slap

By Sara Israelsen-Hartley Deseret News

The steady drizzle Saturday that drenched LDS conference-goers and soaked sports fans is just a hint of what's to come.

"This is typically a transition time of the year," said Linda Cheng, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City. "We'll start seeing storms like this from now on, through the winter and into spring."

The storm band hit Utah early Saturday and continued throughout the day, dropping close to an inch of a rain in Salt Lake City and a little more than an inch down south in some areas of Utah County, including Pleasant Grove.

Attendees at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' 178th Semiannual General Conference sloshed their way across Temple Square as they gathered to hear the counsel of church leaders.

Those who attend Sunday's two sessions may also need to grab their galoshes as the storms are slated to continue intermittently until Monday, when the weather should clear, Cheng said.

"(Sunday) will be cold, Monday (temperatures) will start bouncing back up, through the middle of the week," Cheng said. "But 80 (degree days) are not going to be a common occurrence."

Roads were extra busy due to the conference, and the Utah Highway Patrol reported 39 accidents Saturday in Salt Lake County and 10 in Utah County, in part due to the slick roads.

Luckily, none of the accidents created serious injuries, officers said.

The day's rain caused minor flooding in a few areas where culverts clogged and irrigation ditches failed.

The West Jordan Fire Department responded to two unrelated flooding calls in the same general area about 4:30 p.m.

The first call was water pooling up from a storm drain that was clogged in a cul-de-sac near 6960 S. and 3200 West, said West Jordan Fire Capt. Clint Paxton.

Crews put sandbags in front of the homes, preventing any water damage, he said.

Just down the road at 7370 S. and 3200 West, crews found water seeping up through what looked like an irrigation ditch, or a drainage opening in a backyard.

An inch of water had filled the home's basement, Paxton said.

Crews arriving "fought water with water" Paxton said, by laying out their five-inch fire-fighting hose and filling it with water, creating a barrier heavy enough that it prevented any more water from seeping into the basement.

Living in a desert, the sight of rain always assuages fears of drought, but the most helpful precipitation for storage purposes is the spring snowpack, Cheng said.

"If we get a lot of that, we're good, we want to keep our snowpack up until April or May," Cheng said.

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