WEATHER

Utah’s snowpack dismal, but state has enough water

Apr 2, 2018, 4:11 PM | Updated: Apr 3, 2018, 12:32 am

WASATCH COUNTY, Utah – Snowpack in Utah’s mountains typically peaks around April 1, before the beginning of spring runoff.  While snowpack is way below normal, Utah’s water reserves are not in bad shape. A hydrologist says it’s too late to catch up on mountain snowpack, but stored water will get Utah through the summer.

“The story for 2018 is really one of really poor runoff, really poor snowpack, but really good reservoir storage,” said Brian McInerney, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City.

After a wet March, Utah could really use a cool, wet spring to offset the dismal snowpack, he said. Most of the low and mid-elevation snowpack is already melting, starting to flow in low elevation streams, like Emigration Creek, 10 days earlier than normal.

“Statistically, the first week of April has the largest snowpack in Utah,” said McInerney.

Even after a winter like this one, which was unseasonably warm and dry with the exception of a wet four weeks from February into March, “Our snowpack is really quite low,” he said.

McInerney says below 7,000 feet, and on south-facing slopes, the snowpack is nearly nonexistent.

“We’ve been melting low elevation snow starting in January and February, incredibly early.”

Throughout most of the state, snowpack is just 50 to 60 percent of normal. It’s even lower in southeastern Utah, and 80 percent of normal in extreme northern Utah.

“What would it take to get us back to average conditions?” McInerney asks hypothetically. “It’s about 7 inches of water.”

Roughly, seven major snowstorms to deliver the water to bring Utah snowpack back to normal this late in the snow season.

“We’d be doing much better off,” he said, “But, we’re not.”

Fortunately, Utah’s reservoirs captured near-record runoff from last year’s snowpack, otherwise some communities in our state would face water shortages.

“Last year, we had about 150 to 200 percent volume of runoff into the reservoirs, and we filled almost all of the reservoirs.”

The hydrologist believes that’s why northern Utah reservoirs will refill again this year. Bear Lake will even come close to full pool, he said, but not reach capacity. That’s a direct result from the recharge that all of Utah’s reservoirs got last spring.

Two years ago, reservoir storage statewide was roughly 30 percent. This year reservoir storage is at 80 percent in northern Utah following the carryover from last year.

“Even though we’re going to get a very anemic runoff this year, our water supply is actually in quite good shape,” he said.

Cool, wet days like Monday are much better for Utah runoff, McInerney tells me. Cool weather helps stall the inevitable draw down on the water reserves during the heat of the summer.

“After that, we will see how it goes,” McInerney said. “The longer you can delay runoff, the better yield you get, the more efficient runoff. That’s what we’re shooting for right now.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Weather

(Ntaional Weather Service)...
Cary Schwanitz

Flood Watch in effect for southern and western Utah as more storms build

SALT LAKE CITY — Storms geared up in the early afternoon Thursday and created the potential for more heavy rain and possible flooding in southern and western Utah. The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for the area. “Convection is starting to ramp up across central and southern Utah this hour as low-level stratus […]
1 day ago
Flood watch for Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. (NWS)...
Larry D. Curtis

Southern Utah under flood watch Tuesday, Wednesday

A flood watch has been issued for much of southern Utah Tuesday until midnight.
3 days ago
The road on 3300 S near I15 (UDOT)...
Michael Houck

Flash flood advisory for Salt Lake, Davis counties

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for areas in Salt Lake and Davis counties Saturday afternoon.
6 days ago
Cars are seen stuck in mud and debris at The Inn at Death Valley on August 5. (National Park Servic...
Amanda Musa, CNN

Approximately 1,000 people stranded at Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park officials announced its closure Friday due to substantial flooding within the park.
6 days ago
A double rainbow captured between Monticello and Moab Utah. (Courtesy Kaylee Dalton)...
Larry D. Curtis

Caution: Strong weather takes Utah into the weekend

Utah heads in the weekend with some potentially wild — and even dangerous — weather on the horizon.
7 days ago
A tree fell on this home after Monday night's storm in Springville. (KSL TV)...
Matt Rascon

Destructive storm in Springville destroys homes, cars, trees

A neighborhood in Springville was left cleaning up Tuesday, after a suspected microburst blew through the area during Monday’s storm, toppling trees and damaging homes.
10 days ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
...
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...
AARP Utah

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Utah’s snowpack dismal, but state has enough water