Southern Utah is known for its picturesque landscapes and otherworldly red rock. As with most wonders, however, there is a natural dark side to nature’s beauty.
The landscape of southern Utah is home to numerous natural hazards such as earthquakes, landslides, falling rocks, fires and flash floods.
“Just the shape of the landscape is very much shaped by these natural hazards,” Associate Professor of Geology Jason Kaiser said.
It’s extremely important to plan ahead when looking at any trips, excursions, or activities in southern Utah. There have been at least 6,075 deaths since 1850 caused by natural hazards.
“I think for any trip…the first step would be to look at the weather forecast,” said Kaiser. “The second step would be to do research on where you’re going and understand if there’s a wildfire risk, or rockfall or landslide hazard.”
Over the course of the past summer, Cedar City experienced extreme flooding that led to Mayor Maile Wilson-Edwards declaring a state of emergency for the region.
It’s a common occurrence for trips and plans to be canceled because of weather conditions such as SUU Outdoor’s first canyoneering and rock climbing trips, which were canceled due to rain.
“I was really bummed,” said Harley Smith, a Southern Utah University freshman. “When the storm hit, I was kind of glad we didn’t go and get caught up in that mess.”
Natural hazards can happen in moments, such as the case when it comes to the number one weather-related killer in the United States — flash floods.
Flash floods can happen within hours or even a few minutes after heavy rain or storms, even if the storms occur in another part of the region.
While there are dangers out in the wild southern Utah region, many of the natural hazards can be avoided with careful planning and preparation. Basic preparations include checking the weather, researching the location, asking more experienced individuals for advice, and bringing the right equipment.
With the right preparations, any trip and adventure into the wondrous landscape of southern Utah can be a life-changing and memorable moment. All it takes to be safe is a little bit of planning.
Story by Skyler Jones