A broken dam in Elko County, Nevada, flooded farmland and homes in the community of Montello, stopped Union Pacific trains nearby and prompted a warning to people in extreme northwest Utah to avoid the rural highway into the Silver State.
The National Weather Service reported Wednesday the failure of the 21 Mile Dam was sending water spilling out in a “dangerous and life-threatening situation.”
The National Weather Service advised: “Water in the reservoir continues to rapidly empty and is heading downstream. Ongoing flash flooding will continue and could potentially get worse.” A flash flood warning for Elko County has been issued through midnight Thursday.
As the water flows into the Dake Reservoir, there is a risk the dam there could overflow leading to more flooding, according to the warning.
Union Pacific rail traffic in the area has also come to a halt, Justin Jacobs, a Union Pacific spokesman for the area, confirmed.
Trains headed toward the flood-affected area have been stopped and face indeterminate delays, while Union Pacific is assessing options to re-route trains that are further out.
Fast-flowing water through the streets of Montello had emergency crews responding to set up sand bags around homes and businesses.
Footage shows wide breaks in the earthen dam, water rushing along rail routes and trains stopped on the tracks:
Kevin Hall, a captain with the East Elko Fire Protection District, said the flooding and the breach are due to heavy runoff and snowmelt.
Earlier in the day responders were dealing with just a few inches of water, but since the dam failed it has risen to a few feet in depth, he said.
Areas of Nevada’s state Route 233 are also at risk of washing out and warned drivers out of Box Elder County to stay away.
January storms dumped twice the normal snowpack in Nevada’s mountains. In Wasatch County, official warned residents to prepare for runoff as the weather warms. So BE PREPARED!