A family visiting Utah’s Zion National Park from Washington had just finished the famous hike down The Narrows on Tuesday when it started to rain.
The Thomas family told KUTV the rain started pounding, coming down quicker and harder than they’ve seen before.
“It happened extremely fast,” Lola Thomas told KUTV.
The family was one of many stuck in one of Zion’s flash floods, park officials said. Over an inch of rain fell in one hour.
The flooding shut down part of the national park, including State Route 9 to all traffic coming into Zion, park officials said.
“Due to the flash flooding and an active technical Search and Rescue operation SR-9 in the park is closed to inbound traffic,” rangers said in a Tuesday night news release. “Park staff are actively working to remove debris from the roads.”
High, roaring water rushed through roads and large rocks covered the park entrance, videos show. Debris was scattered across the park.
“I’ve lived or worked here for 36 years. I grew up here and this is the worst I’ve ever seen,” Springdale Police Officer Britt Ballard told St. George News. “This is a major, major incident disaster-wise. I mean, we get a little bit of flooding and a bit of mud on the road. But not like this.”
Tuesday’s flash flood might not be the last of it. As park officials worked to clean up debris, the National Weather Service said the flash flood rating for Zion National Park on Wednesday is probable.
“Zion National Park experiences monsoons from mid-July into September that result in an increased risk of flash floods,” rangers said. “These floods often occur without warning and can increase water flow by over 100 times.”
There have been no injuries reported from Tuesday’s flash flood, but flooding in Zion has been deadly in the past.
In 2015, seven hikers were killed in a flash flood when fast-moving waters rushed through a canyon, The Associated Press reported.
Tourists should check the most up-to-date safety alerts and weather conditions on Zion National Park’s alerts page before heading on a hike or camping.
“Flash floods, often caused by storms miles away, are a very real danger and can be life threatening,” Zion officials said Wednesday. “Know the weather and flash flood potential ratings before starting your trip. If bad weather threatens, do not enter a narrow canyon.”
Here’s a look at the damage from Tuesday’s flood:
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