the Little Bear floods, Paradise and Avon are prepared
OF SPRING: Water rushes into the East
Fork from the Porcupine Dam outlet southeast of Paradise.
/ Photo by David Baker
By David Baker
April 14, 2006 | PARADISE -- The South
Fork of the Little Bear River was running big and brown,
swelling to meet its banks, as it flowed through green
pastures near Avon Wednesday afternoon. Its counterpart
-- the East Fork of the Little Bear -- also ran brown,
capped with small, white rapids as it rushed to meet
the South Fork, just outside of Avon.
According to Brian McInerney, hydrologist for the
Salt Lake office of the National Weather Service, this
scene will be typical of this spring. Small rivers --
like the forks of the Little Bear -- will "run big"
throughout the runoff season. Although there is a heightened
flood potential for all of Cache Valley, McInerney said
the threat of flooding near Paradise and Avon isn't
This year there is 140-150 percent more moisture than
in an average year, McInerney said. "The key is how
it will come down." He added that the amount of snow
pack is enough to create flood conditions by itself.
Flooding in Paradise and Avon will largely be determined
by this spring's weather, he said. If the temperatures
stay between 70 and 75 degrees, without rain, we will
be OK, McInerney said. Any cold, stormy weather will
delay the snowmelt.
"The longer the delay, the more flood potential,"
McInerney said. "The potential to hit 90 degrees gets
better the closer we get to mid-May."
Having the snow around until mid-May means increased
temperatures, which leads to faster melt rates and an
increasing possibility of thunderstorms, which compound
possible flood problems, McInerney said. If melt is
delayed more than two weeks, we could be in trouble,
The short-term weather forecast facilitates these
delays. McInerney said the next five days could be stormy,
with rain and a possible winter storm Sunday and Monday.
He didn't speculate about long-term forecasts because
of the inaccuracy involved. But, snow over the weekend
would add to the snow pack and stop any melting already
in progress, he said.
"There will be high flows throughout the runoff period.
The question is whether there will be any damage done,"
Flood damage is nothing new for those who live near
Avon. Paradise Fire Chief Troy Fredrickson and Assistant
Fire Chief Blake Pulsipher remember the damage done
by last year's flooding. They related stories about
log jams on the East Fork, pumping water out of the
basements of several homes and placing sandbags in an
attempt to keep rivers and creeks within their banks.
Pulsipher said there was one house he remembered pumping
out that had at least three feet of water in the basement.
It was almost above your hip-boots, he said. They said
another house had water coming out of the drains because
the septic tank had filled up with water.
"All you can do is herd the water around and try to
keep it in the river," Fredrickson said. The only other
option is to pump it out of houses, he added.
They are prepared to do both. Fredrickson said 100
people involved in a church service project filled 900
sandbags, which are stored at the town shed, ready to
be loaded onto trucks if need be. The county also has
six portable pumps, and all the fire departments have
been put on alert, he said.
As for other preparations, Fredrickson jokingly said,
"We started building an ark but we ran out of gopher
All joking aside, dealing with last year's flooding
taught Fredrickson an important lesson about the "amazing
generosity" of people in Cache Valley.
"Last year the amount of help was amazing," he said.
"There were people coming from Smithfield and Logan
just because they heard on the radio that we needed
The East Fork of the Little Bear surges through Avon.
/ Photo by David Baker