JEREMY RANCH, Summit County A chunk of mountainside in this tony Park City-area community broke loose Saturday, sending torrents of mud oozing down past houses, toppling trees and snapping power lines.
One home was damaged by the slide. A power pole was shoved up against it, and more than a dozen aspen trees were left lying in the road. Power lines snaked along the ground. Farther down Hidden Cove Drive, several other homes were coated with mud and water. Authorities said no one was injured.
Ralph Hottinger was pulling out of his driveway about 4:30 p.m. to run an errand when he heard a noise.
"I heard this wild rumbling and grumbling. I thought lightning had struck," he said Saturday. "I looked out and there was a 3-foot wall of mud coming down the road."
When it got to his driveway, it made a left turn toward him. Hottinger quickly drove his car back into the garage as the mud continued down Hidden Cove Drive, piling up against a neighbor's home.
"I heard the cracking of all the trees," Paul Hurst said as he watched muddy water continue to cascade down where the earth broke loose. "I heard our neighbors screaming and came out and saw all the mud oozing down the road. It was like lava."
Summit County sheriff's deputies blocked off a chunk of the street as a front-end loader tried to clear the mud and trees away. Several homes were evacuated for a brief time, authorities said.
Authorities blamed the slide on natural runoff.
"A lot of snow and rain," said Tricia Hurd with the Park City Fire Service District.
Farther down the mountain in Jeremy Ranch, Kim Slizeski was preparing to sandbag her yard.
"I really don't want to wake up to a flooded basement. I'm really hoping to do some kind of precautionary sandbagging," she said.
In Emigration Canyon, residents were sandbagging Saturday to try to prevent the swollen creek from flooding their homes. Muddy waters toppled a fence and turned yards into small lakes. Mounds of sand were stationed up and down the canyon as volunteers worked quickly to bag it. A flood warning is in effect for Emigration Creek until further notice.
Flooding could become a serious problem in northern Utah in the coming weeks. Too much wet, cool weather like what March delivered throughout Utah could mean flooding for the Logan area and places along the Jordan River.
"My feeling is we're going to have some flooding in Logan and possibly City Creek," said Brian McInerney, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Utah.City Creek in Salt Lake City is one of six creeks being watched as spring rains and runoff from ample snowpack in the Wasatch Mountains flow into the Jordan River. Newer homes along the river already have experienced basement flooding this year as groundwater levels, already relatively high because of the homes' location, have risen further due to spring conditions.
Contributing: Stephen Speckman