A downpour in the fire-scarred mountains around Huntington Canyon produced another debris flow and mudslide Sunday, causing the Utah Department of Transportation to close SR 31 again. Other roads in the area were also reported as impassable.
After the cloudburst, the debris flows came out of North Hughes Canyon at mile post 23.5, South Hughes Canyon at mile post 24.5, Engineer Canyon at mile post 25.5, Mill Canyon at mile post 26 and Day Canyon at mile post 26.5.
The largest debris flows came out of South Hughes Canyon and Mill Canyon. The large volume of water going down Huntington Creek damaged the shoulder of the road in several places and the gabion baskets near Stuart Guard Station at mile post 28 have fallen into the creek. At Mill Canyon, the debris flow has filled the creek channel and the water is now running along the side of the road.
It is estimated that SR 31 through Huntington Canyon will be closed from Crandall Canyon mile post 33 to Miller's Flat junction mile post 18 until Sept. 10. UDOT is working on reopening the highway.
This is the third time since the Seeley Fire that SR 31 has been closed for a significant amount of time. The closure of SR 31 has a great impact on the workers that travel the canyon daily for work at the power plant, coal mines and construction sites. The debris flows into Huntington Creek compromise the quality of the water entering the power plant and irrigation systems. It is anticipated that this will be an ongoing occurrence for the next few years during rain events, spring runoff and possible avalanches in the winter.