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SALT LAKE CITY — Weekend slides forced the closure of at least three canyon roads over the weekend and emergency officials are bracing for more moving debris because of steady rain predicted Monday.
Rocks tumbled down the hillside Sunday in Davis County's Farmington Canyon, forcing the area to be shut down for at least 48 hours. This latest slide followed one up Santaquin Canyon and in Beaver Canyon, both closing roads until further notice.
In Beaver Canyon, two brothers on their way to a favorite fishing spot at 12:30 p.m. Sunday became unwitting witnesses to the aftermath of a tremendous amount of mud and debris that fell onto state Route 153.
The brothers, Shilo Joseph and James Joseph, captured the event on videotape using their cell phones.
"Approximately eight miles up the canyon, we were captivated to see the road covered in rocks, roots, branches, and mud. The destructive nature of the mud slide bathed the road in a natural mass of muck," Shilo Joseph said. "A boulder approximately the size of a wreaking ball was set directly in the center of the river along with a newly formed dam from the debris."
In Davis County, the sheriff's office reported the Farmington Canyon road closed for 48 hours due the instability of the hillsides. Rocks covered the road at the first switchback, but no injuries were reported in the 4:10 p.m. slide., despite an emergency services manager and a deputy being on scene when the rocks came down.
Kathy Jo Pollock with the Uinta-Cache-Wasatch National Forest said the Ward Canyon Road, (Forest Road No. 80177) in Davis County east of Bountiful has been closed due to slipping hillsides that have damaged the road. The closure begins at the forest service boundary and goes east to the junction with Skyline Drive (Forest Road No. 80008)
In Utah County, the 2 p.m. Saturday slide in Santaquin Canyon blocked more than a dozen motorists, happening just below the Tinney Flat Campground, Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon said. No one was injured and only one vehicle sustained some minor damage.
"It did cover the whole road," he said. "It was about 100 yards wide and three feet deep in places. There were a lot of trees and rocks, mud and water with it."
Cannon said the debris was solid enough that officials were able to get all of the vehicles past the obstruction before clearing the roadway
"The problem is, it fills back into place," he said. "We're figuring out how much material is going to come down and how long it will take to get it out of the way."
By Sunday afternoon, the road remained closed until further notice, said sheriff's Sgt. Peter Quittner. With another storm looming and the hillside so unstable, officials fear more debris will slough off the mountain.
The road is a scenic byway that loops to Payson, but had not yet been opened for the season. Quittner said the gates will remain locked until the debris can be safely removed.
Late Sunday, the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City warned that urban streams could flood in Utah and Salt Lake counties as well as east central Tooele County because a fierce rainstorm that also brought hail and high winds.
No major flooding was reported, however.