One Percent Chance Flood!!!

Hi, I’m Holly Strand from the Utah Division of Emergency Management.
The roar you hear in the background is Ashley Creek flowing underneath Highway 191 in Vernal. Rivers and creeks all over the state have been running high with melted snow from the biggest snowpack ever recorded in Utah.

1983 was last time we had anything near this amount of snowmelt fueling our spring runoff. That year, there were multiple 100-year (and bigger) floods. The landslide in Thistle triggered Utah’s first presidential disaster declaration. For weeks, floods, landslides, and debris flows damaged homes, highways, and drainage canals. 22 of Utah’s 29 counties were affected.

This year—with a historic snowpack– it seems like we should be experiencing more 100-year floods or even 500-year floods. Even though only 40 years have gone by since 1983. It’s quite possible, because 100-year floods don’t happen just once every 100 years. They are just projected to happen every 100 years on average**

So did this year’s historic snowpack—more than in 1983–cause another round of 100-year floods? Hasn’t so far and doesn’t look like it will. There has been isolated flooding in some areas, and groundwater flooding, but we just aren’t seeing damage on the same scale that we saw 40 years ago. Why not?

For one thing, Utah communities took lots of mitigation measures in the wake of the 1983 floods. New debris basins were built, stormwater systems improved, river and watersheds were restored, and at-risk structures were flood-proofed. Communities also prepared their residents for floods with information and sandbags! But a big reason Utah didn’t suffer from 100-year or floods, is that the 2023 spring was absolutely ideal for moving water safely from the snowy, high elevations to the thirsty reservoirs and lakes below. Since peak snowpack in the beginning of April, there’s been a long gradual warming trend with no big storms. Stream flows have been consistently high for 2 months instead coming down all at once during a sudden long hot spell of 90 plus temperatures. We dodged a bullet this year thanks to mitigation, preparation and Mother Nature!

Thanks to Glen Merrill with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City and to Tom Wright, hydrological engineer at AECOM for their expert knowledge.

I’m Holly Strand and I’m Wild About Utah and Utah Public Radio!

**A 100-year flood–has a 1% chance of happening each and every year on any given stream reach. Consider what happens when you roll dice. Let’s say you roll a double six. You could get double sixes on the very next roll.  But over many, many, many rolls, you will average double sixes only once every 36 rolls. Similarly you could get a 100-year flood one year, and then the very next year you could roll another 100-year flood but there’s a 99% chance that you won’t. But averaged over a long time, like 1000s of years, a 100-year flood should happen—on average—once every 100 years. To make this concept clearer flood experts prefer to say 1% annual chance flood instead of 100-year flood.


Images: Courtesy & Copyright Holly Strand, Photographer
Additional Audio: Holly Strand
Voice: Holly Strand
Text: Holly Strand Utah Division of Emergency Management
Additional Reading: Holly Strand

Sources & Additional Reading

Wild About Utah pieces authored by Holly Strand

Some interesting sites for flood nerds:
Utah Flood Hazards and Floodplain Management, Utah Division of Emergency Management,

Colorado Basin River Forecast Center, National Weather Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Department of Commerce,

NOAA ATLAS 14 Point Precipitation Frequency Estimates: UT, Office of Water Prediction (OWP), National Weather Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Department of Commerce,

Spring Dandelion Power

Dandelions, Courtesy & Copyright Patrick Kelly
Morning for the spring dandelion is gentle and calm
The world is no longer a struggle but instead a serendipitous balm
Your yellow buds open upon you, sneaking between others some pink, some white
More colors even still in the waxing new day’s light
 Spring Dandelion Power
There is no better time for the dandelion than when spring has sprung
The leaves are fresh green and so is the fresh dung
Birds do sing high up in the stretching yawning trees
Staking their turf, edges, and new nesting eaves
Spring when sprung well sizzles with waking signs
Of kin abloom drawn with straight growing lines
One end towards sun, the other down towards the deep
Until some roots build taps, and others go on the creep
The days are now joyous choruses of neighbor raucous crocuses
Avian acrobats whirling spinning diving like ferocious locusts
Shades of toothed green batten down the laden earth
Soaking and drinking and filling to fullest milky girth
And as the sun sets on each new spring day
I am reminded of the new presence by the heat that stays
Radiating, glowing, even after the moon has shown
Continuing the journey of growth and what has grown
It is amazing to think that each year the world mends
Its browns in all hues to life in all bends
From sails to seeds to germ and blossom
Dandelion life is both humble and awesome
So this spring when sprung look out your window or door
Remember that life gives always life more and more
If in doubt, don’t wait: be like the dandelion flower
Thriving in cracks and interrupting silly lawns with unrelenting blissful dandelion power
I’m Patrick Kelly, and I’m Wild About Utah

Images: Courtesy & © Patrick Kelly
Audio: Courtesy & © Kevin Colver
Text:    Patrick Kelly, Director of Education, Stokes Nature Center,
Included Links: Patrick Kelly & Lyle Bingham, Webmaster,

Additional Reading

Wild About Utah, Posts by Patrick Kelly

Stokes Nature Center,

Brain McCann, Roslynn, Dandelion, Friend or Foe?, Wild About Utah, Apr 4, 2016,

Greene, Jack, Pioneer Day Edible Native Plants 2016, Wild About Utah, Jul 18, 2016,

Tulips and Daffodils- It’s Spring!

Tulips and Daffodils- It’s Spring! The Trumpet Choir Daffodils at Thanksgiving Point Courtesy & © Mary Heers, Photographer
The Trumpet Choir
Daffodils at Thanksgiving Point
Courtesy & © Mary Heers, Photographer

Daffodil Encore, Thanksgiving Point Courtesy & © Mary Heers, Photographer Daffodil Encore
Thanksgiving Point
Courtesy & © Mary Heers, Photographer

My Favorite Sign Along the Path, Lilja Rogers, Published as Hocus Pocus in the Saturday Evening Post, 1961, Image Courtesy & © Mary Heers, Photographer My Favorite Sign Along the Path
Lilja Rogers, Published as Hocus Pocus in the Saturday Evening Post, 1961
Image Courtesy & © Mary Heers, Photographer

Mary Eating a Tulip, Courtesy & © Mary Heers Mary Eating a Tulip
Courtesy & © Mary Heers

My Favorite Photo Tulips at Thanksgiving Point Courtesy & © Mary Heers, Photographer
More Tulips Thanksgiving Point Courtesy & © Mary Heers, Photographer
Close Up - Tulips Thanksgiving Point Courtesy & © Mary Heers, Photographer
Mix of Tulips Thanksgiving Point Courtesy & © Mary Heers, Photographer
Red Tulips Thanksgiving Point Courtesy & © Mary Heers, Photographer
Red and Yellow Tulips Go Well Together Thanksgiving Point Courtesy & © Mary Heers, Photographer Above Tulips From Rebound Visit
Thanksgiving Point
Courtesy & © Mary Heers, Photographer

When I arrived at the Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point I was informed by a guide that the tulips were running late.

“No tulips?” I asked. I had heard they had planted 250,000.

“It has everything to do with the soil temperature,” my guide explained. It was April 14. She wasn’t expecting the tulips to emerge for at least another two weeks.

All was not lost, she hastened to add.

“The daffodils are up.”

So off we went along the paths of the 50 acre Ashton Gardens. Sure enough, hundreds of daffodils were waving their heads in the light breeze. I was especially drawn to a patch that they were intensely yellow, almost orange.

“Those are the ‘Tweety-Birds’,” my guide said.

I knelt down to get a good look at the trumpet shape of the flowers. Wow, I thought. This is the trumpet choir heralding the end of winter and the coming of spring.

So with my return ticket secure in my pocket, I went back to Mendon to wait. Snow was still on the ground.

This gave me time to read up on tulips. I found they were originally from Turkey. Tulip, in Turkish, means turban.

The exotic plant arrived in Holland in the 1500’s., It soon became so popular that the price went through the roof. At the height of the tulip mania, some people were willing to pay the price of a house for a single bulb.

About this time, a friend loaned me a book about this phenomenon, Tulip Fever. It turned out to be a real page turner. Set in 1630, young lovers in Amsterdam concocted an incredible scheme to run away and live comfortably in the colonies – if they played their tulips right.

Back in Mendon, when the snow finally started to melt, my neighbors began to tell me how the hungry deer had come into their gardens and beheaded their tulips. Their daffodils were left untouched.

Time for more research. I learned the daffodils produce a toxic alkaloid, lycorine, which makes them taste bitter. Tulips, however, are not only edible, but delicious.

About this time I noticed a lone tulip popping up next to my apple tree. No one planted a bulb here. This tulip had arrived as a seed. Years ago, the wind, or a bird. or an animal dropped this seed . Tulip seeds only take a few months to germinate. But it can take up to 5 years for the plant to produce a bulb which, in turn, produces the flower.

During WWII, when the German army occupied Holland, a large part of the population found themselves with nothing to eat but the tulip bulbs they had set aside to plant. They survived because a tulip bulb has as many calories as a potato.

I was sharing this tidbit of information with my good friend and neighbor when she reminded me the early Mormon pioneers had staved off hunger by eating the wild Sego Lilies that were growing on the nearby mountainsides.

Then she disappeared into her kitchen. She came back with a flower pot holding a tulip that had already bloomed. She pulled out the bulb and asked me if I wanted to taste it.

Never one to refuse a gift, I peeled off the outer layers and took a bite.

I chewed. She waited. It wasn’t bitter and it wasn’t sweet. I chewed some more. I wanted to say

green. Finally it came to me.


This is Mary Heers and I’m Wild About Utah.

Photos: Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer
Featured Audio:
Text: Mary Heers,
Additional Reading: Lyle Bingham,

Additional Reading

Wild About Utah, Mary Heers’ Postings

Tulip Festival, Thanksgiving Point,
Tulip Festival: Bounce-back!, [accessed 5/13/2023]

Pace, Eliza, Tulip festival to return to Thanksgiving Point, KSL TV, March 7, 2023, [accessed 5/13/2023]

Stefanaki, A., Walter, T. & van Andel, T. Tracing the introduction history of the tulip that went wild (Tulipa sylvestris) in sixteenth-century Europe. Sci Rep 12, 9786 (2022). AND [accessed 5/13/2023]

The Amsterdam Tulip Museum,
Tulip History Outside Of Holland, The Amsterdam Tulip Museum,

Moggach, Deborah, Tulip Fever: A Novel, Dial Press Trade Paperback, April 10, 2001,

Eating tulip bulbs, Fluwel,

Brown, Janice, First a Howling Blizard… A Poem by Lilja Rogers, Posted May 31, 2007, Cow Hampshire,

Community Trees

Jack in 560 year old Limber Pine tree 7/27/16 Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart
Jack in 560 year old Limber Pine tree 7/27/16
Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart

Jack and Darren McAvoy measuring the champion Engelmann Spruce at Tony Grove Lake. Jack has identified this tree as a close contender for the state Champion listing Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart, Photographer Jack and Darren McAvoy measuring the champion Engelmann Spruce at Tony Grove Lake.
Jack has identified this tree as a close contender for the state Champion listing
Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart, Photographer

Urban Trees Courtesy and Copyright Ron Hellstern, Photographer Urban Trees
Courtesy and Copyright Ron Hellstern, Photographer

“I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree” Joyce Kilmore. I’m a forest person, my psyche deeply rooted in the forests of northern Wisconsin from my toddler days forward. Now as an octogenarian tree committee chair for Smithfield, Utah, trees have once again invaded my mental space and I feel the mychorrhizal fungi creeping back into my roots.

Arbor Day has come and gone a wonderful opportunity to celebrate these magnificent, towering relatives. As a biology teacher, I would have my students form a circle with each student offering a different benefit we receive from trees. Without any repetition, they never disappointed, each voicing another arboreal gift.

Every dollar spent on planting and caring for a community tree yields benefits that are two to five times the investment. The benefits urban forests provide include jobs, higher property values, improved physical and mental health, pollution mitigation, heat mitigation, lower energy bills, safer streets, flood protection, and biodiversity. Trees connect communities, cultures, and generations. Neighborhood trees have shown the ability to reduce stress, improve overall health and development in children, and encourage physical activity.

Climate change is arguably the greatest challenge facing the health of our planet, which is our health. While it will take many solutions working together to make a difference, trees are the proven, affordable, natural way that can be implemented quickly to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Every tree planted is a step in the right direction.

One of the biggest line items in the Inflation Reduction Act’s forestry budget goes to urban forests: $1.5 billion has been appropriated for the Urban and Community Forest Assistance program, which provides technical and financial help to local communities so they can plant and maintain urban trees, educate citizens about tree care, and train tree workers.

“Access to urban green space and trees do a lot of wonderful things for people,” says Rachel Holmes, urban forestry strategist for the Nature Conservancy and co-chair for the Sustainable Urban Forest Coalition. Study after study validates the benefits of urban tree cover: Views of trees outside classroom and office windows can positively influence kids’ test scores and behavior, office workers report significantly less stress and more satisfaction; greener neighborhoods experience less crime.

An excellent resource for all things trees- selecting best tree for your landscape, planting, pruning, watering, mulching, is the Arbor Day website- Smithfield has the high honor of holding the title “Tree City, USA”. Does your city? If not, the Arbor Day website has the criteria for attaining this esteemed title.

Are trees sentient beings- capable of thought and caring? May I suggest you read “Finding the Mother Tree- Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest” by Suzanne Simard for the answer.

Jack Greene for Bridgerland Audubon Society and I’m Wild About Utah trees!


Audio: Courtesy & © Kevin Colver,
Text: Jack Greene, Bridgerland Audubon,
Additional Reading: Lyle W Bingham, Webmaster, Bridgerland Audubon,

Additional Reading:

Jack Greene’s Postings on Wild About Utah,

Joyce Kilmer, Poetry Foundation,

Smithfield, Utah Tree Committee,

USDA Forest Service Urban & Community Forestry, Inflation Reduction Act, Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), USDA Forest Service,

About Tree City USA, The Arbor Day Foundation,
Inflation Reduction Act News, UDSA News,

Kuhns, Michael, Mooter, Dave, Tree Planting Rules,

Tree Browser, USU Extension, Utah State University,