Snowmelt leads to severe flooding from the Southwest into the Rockies.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) – Rapid snowmelt after an unusually wet winter is releasing floodwaters from the Southwest into the Rockies, causing residents in the area and the upper Midwest to pile up sandbags between overflowing streams and rivers.

Neighbors on a street in Flagstaff, Arizona, have been working side by side with shovels to keep floodwaters away from their homes since Tuesday.

Three creek retention basins installed last year helped initially, city emergency officials said. But water fell on the shoulder of the local highway, and roads and sidewalks were closed. Even parts of city trails are submerged.

Officials are calling it unprecedented water levels, impossible to plan for.

It would be great if we had an accurate model of what to do. But we don’t,” Flagstaff Vice Mayor Austin Aslan told the Arizona Daily Sun. “We don’t know what the next fire will look like or where the scars will be. There are slight differences in which water is directed to one or another neighborhood.

Sandoval County in north-central New Mexico has declared a state of emergency following severe flooding in communities near the Jemez River. The river was at 7.5 feet (2 meters) as of Thursday afternoon, the US Geological Survey said. Residents of Jemez Pueblo, known for its mineral hot springs, were collecting sandbags as a precaution.

The flood also caused overflows from the wastewater treatment plant, which contributed to the rise of the James River. The US Forest Service warns the public against fishing and drinking south of the plant.

In Salt Lake City, Mayor Erin Mendenhall signed an emergency order aimed at helping residents affected by flooding in the southeast part of the city. About 100 homes were voluntarily evacuated as the rapidly melting snow in the nearby mountains allowed water to flow through a local stream.

As cold weather moved into the area, the water was receding. However, several mudslides were reported on canyon roads, including one that forced the temporary closure of Interstate 80 southeast of the city.

On Wednesday, local officials ordered the evacuation of at least 20 homes in Kaysville, north of Salt Lake City, after flooding caused a large gash to damage roads, sidewalks and driveways in a subdivision under construction.

Meanwhile, heavy snowfall and highs expected to reach 60 degrees Thursday have caused flooding in northwestern Colorado, with transportation officials closing Highway 40 between Craig and Steamboat Springs, a popular ski area that has received more than 400 inches (1,016 centimeters) of snow this winter. have got. .

In the small town of Hayden, flooding forced schools to close for the day, and rain fell in the area before turning to snow in the afternoon.

The Colorado Department of Transportation posted photos online of Dry Creek overflowing its banks at Hayden Bridge and floodwaters threatening several parked recreational vehicles.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood advisory to avoid driving through flooded river crossings, warning that some roads may be impassable.

As of Thursday, there were no reports of major damage in Utah or Colorado.

As rapid snowmelt and April rains threaten severe flooding across the northern plains, state officials are announcing flood response plans, and residents are stocking up on sandbags by the thousands — if not hundreds of thousands — to deal with flooding.

The Red River Valley, which includes Fargo in North Dakota and Moorhead in Minnesota, is at risk of flooding as warmer weather melts snow left over from the two states’ snowiest winters on record.

And given the spring season, “heavy rainfall can have a significant impact on the extent of the flood risk,” Morehead City Engineer Bob Zimmerman told Minnesota Public Radio. “It’s a wild card that we can’t really predict at this point.”

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgh has declared a statewide emergency for spring flooding and has put the National Guard on standby to fight flooding in the coming weeks, the Bismarck Tribune reported. The city of Bismarck opened spaces for residents to fill their own sandbags.


Associated Press writers Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana, and Thomas Papert in Denver contributed to this report.

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