August rains improve soil moisture in Utah

Sep 28, 2021, 10:00 PM | Updated: 10:46 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The water year in Utah comes to an end this week, and there’s not a lot to celebrate, but there is a little bit of hopeful news in the midst of this extreme drought — Utah’s soil moisture is now better than it was a year ago.

The new water year in Utah starts Oct. 1. That allows hydrologists to measure water resources at the beginning of the snow season, instead of the calendar year.

As the end of the water year nears, Utah will finish with 77% of average precipitation, in the bottom 10th percentile, all time.

Jordan Clayton, the snow survey supervisor for Utah, said the state’s reservoirs will finish the water year just below 50%.

“That’s pretty low for this time of year,” Clayton said. “It’s definitely lower than it was last year, but that’s not the worst that they’ve ever been. So again, it sounds bad, but not the worst.”

But, soil moisture, for most of the year, was the worst it’s ever been since snow survey hydrologists started measuring it a couple of decades ago.

“Up until somewhat recently, the driest on record,” the hydrologist said.

Then, rain arrived in August.

“More recently, when we got the monsoonal rain, it was unusually strong this year. That was quite helpful and actually pushed our soil moisture in the other direction,” said Clayton.

Now, soil moisture is about average, which seemed nearly impossible only six weeks ago.

When snow starts to accumulate, soil moisture stays about the same, until the snow melts in the spring and the runoff heads downstream.

“If we can go into our winter snow pack season with average, or above-average, soil moisture, we’re going to get a better delivery of that snow melt when it happens in the spring,” Clayton said.

When the soil is moist, runoff does not soak in. That’s what Utah needs to start refilling the reservoirs to recover from drought.

“What we are obviously hoping for is what we hope for every year: well above-average snow pack. Unfortunately, it’s going to take more than just one year of above-average snow pack to get us back on track.”

The hydrologist said it will likely take several above-average snow years to refill Utah’s reservoirs.

Right now, we don’t know how much we’re going to get next winter. That’s why we always need to conserve.
KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Utah Drought 2021

The East Bench of Salt Lake City receives a dusting of snow the morning of May 9, 2022. (Jed Boal/K...
Jed Boal, KSL TV

Drought coordinator: Hold off on watering; consult the weekly lawn watering guide

The cool, wet spring Utah is having is exactly what the state needs in the midst of this historic drought. The wet weather won’t really make a dent in the drought, but it can help everyone save water, if we take advantage of it.
13 days ago
(KSL TV)...
Eliza Pace, KSL TV

Ogden mayor declares severe water shortage

Effective immediately, Mike Caldwell, Ogden City Mayor, has signed a declaration of severe water shortage. 
18 days ago
Weber State University has replaced grass and plants with xeriscaping at several areas of campus. (...
Mike Anderson, KSL TV

Weber State University saves 50 million gallons of water a year, more savings planned

Weber State University has cut water usage by about 30% thanks to an ambitious water conservation plan.
1 month ago
Chopper 5 shows just how much of the Great Salt Lake has evaporated. (KSL TV)...
Amy Joi O'Donoghue, Deseret News and Mike Anderson, KSL TV

Could Utah children help shape the destiny of the ailing Great Salt Lake?

To save the Great Salt Lake is to know its worth. To know its worth is to be educated about why it matters.
1 month ago
Satellite imagery of Sand Hallow taken June 2021. (Nearmap)...
Eliza Pace, KSL TV

Aerial imagery reveals the grim reality of ongoing drought in Utah

Aerial images provided by Nearmap, an aerial imagery company, show before and after photos of local reservoirs with receding shorelines: more evidence of the dire drought conditions that plague the state of Utah.
1 month ago
Sprinklers water a lawn in Salt Lake City on Friday, May 7, 2021. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox issues his ...
Lauren Steinbrecher, KSL TV

Salt Lake City, County focus on water conservation as peak-demand season starts

Both Salt Lake City and County are focusing on water conservation as peak-demand season begins after a less-than-average winter snowpack and as drought conditions persist.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Make Money Online Easily...

4 Ways that You Can Make Money Online Easily in Just a Few Clicks

Here are 4 ways that you can make money online easily in no time at all! Some are as simple as just a few clicks away.
tips to winterize your home...
Bonneville Digital SLC

Tips to Winterize Your Home | The Top 5 Ways You Can Prepare for the Cold Utah Winter Ahead

Before the snow hits, here are the top 5 tips to winterize your home to prepare for the cold Utah winter this year.
August rains improve soil moisture in Utah