It rained so hard that they closed the town, but that was only half the story. It also snowed so hard that they closed the ski resorts.
The intense eight-day deluge ravaging the West from California to Colorado has hit with double fury here at the base of the Wasatch Range just east of the Great Salt Lake.
In the valleys, heavy daily storms have brought torrents of rain, turning normally placid creeks into raging rivers. The mountains, meanwhile, are smothered with heavy wet snow that has triggered dozens of avalanches and blocked roads.
The combination of spring in the valley and winter in the high country has spawned large mud slides on slopes overlooking this town 30 miles north of Salt Lake City.
While emergency crews in sodden hip boots and muddy slickers continued trying to shore up river banks, a chilly rain kept falling today. The forecast, here and elsewhere in the central and northern West, is for rain and snow.
Roads leading to this town in the valley of the Weber River are closed because of the danger of mud slides and concern about the safety of bridges spanning the racing creeks. Some residents here and in nearby Peterson had to evacuate when it became clear that rising waters and continued rain would soon engulf their homes.
In mountains surrounding this riverbed, enormous daily snowfalls began last Wednesday, and a flurry of avalanches blocked many roads. The surplus of snow forced some ski areas to close, partly because their access roads were buried and partly for fear of new avalanches.
The Salt Lake County sheriff's office said a 100-foot-deep, 100-yard-wide avalanche occurred at the Alta ski area this afternoon, killing a 16-year-old skier. The skier, who was pulled from the snow after being buried for 2 1/2 hours, died tonight in a Salt Lake City hospital. About 150 rescuers with dogs searched for other victims this evening, but as the search ended officials said it appeared everyone on the slopes had been accounted for.
Eight days of rain has brought "amazing" precipitation totals to a region that is geographically desert, National Weather Service forecaster William Alder said. In an area that usually receives between 12 and 16 inches of precipitation each year, measuring stations along the Wasatch front reported 8 inches or more in the last week. The deluge swelled rivers and tributaries with names such as "Hardcastle," "Dead" and "Dry," normally fairly descriptive of the streams' condition.
No major river here has reached flood stage. But work crews are busily piling green, brown and orange sandbags along river banks out of concern that continued rain could bring disaster.
"We're on pins and needles if it starts raining again," Morgan County Sheriff Bert Holbrook said.
As if the rain were not problematic enough, creeks were further swollen as warm weather and rain released millions of gallons of water stored on the hillsides as snow.
Last weekend, a foot of show sat on the hills climbing out of the Weber River Valley; by Monday night, it was gone.
A key question here on the shores of Great Salt Lake is whether the area will face another bout of flooding such as that seen in 1983 when some of the major thoroughfares in downtown Salt Lake City turned into fast, muddy rivers.
That flood occurred in late spring when the region would normally expect heavy runoff from melting snow. The National Weather Service's Alder said the big melt this week might mitigate flooding concerns later in the year.
"We're losing a lot of low-elevation snow," he said. "In that sense, it's positive -- if we don't gain it back. That's a big 'if.' "
March and April are usually heavy snow months in the Rocky Mountain west.
The most immediate concern, however, is potentially serious flooding if the rain continues. The Weber River, running into the Great Salt Lake north of Salt Lake City, recorded a flow this week sharply higher than the flow rate during the 1983 flood. Weather officials said today that they have no reading on the river flow because the gauge had been swept away.