Utah drought situation improves slightly but many more storms needed
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Department of Natural Resources said this week’s storms gave the state slight hope for the rest of the water year but a dry November was a setback.
We still need several above-average storms to refill Utah reservoirs.
The overall big picture showed some improvement. The latest DWR drought update said most of the state has been downgraded from exceptional drought but 78.1% is in an extreme drought.
“This past week the snow water equivalent – or how much water is in the snow – was lower than any time in the past 30 years, but this last storm system brought us closer to average,” said Brian Steed, executive director of the Department of Natural Resources. “We still have a long way to go and need many snowstorms to reach an average, or preferably above-average, snowpack.”
Drought update: Winter is off to a great start thanks to recent storms! ❄️ Though this early-season snow won't pull us out of drought, it is improving soil moisture and adding to our snowpack. Learn more: https://t.co/TlMb1k75N6 pic.twitter.com/EiTt1alTCN
— Utah DNR (@UtahDNR) December 17, 2021
- Statewide snow water equivalent (SWE), or how much water would be in the snowpack if it melted, is 2.8 inches. This is 74% of the median for this time of year and 18% of the median peak, which usually occurs around the first of April.
- Thirty-nine of Utah’s largest 45 reservoirs are below 55% of available capacity. Overall statewide storage is 50% of capacity. This time last year, reservoirs were about 62% of capacity.
- Soil moisture is 7.6% above the median for this time of year. Wet soils are critical as the state begins to accumulate its winter snowpack.
- Of the 84 measured streams, 43 are flowing below normal. (This number went down because many streams and gauges ice up in the winter.)
- The temperature was 4.8 degrees above average for the last 30 days. Above-average temperatures can melt snow and increase the demand of the air and land for water.
- Evaporative demand has been slightly above average for this time of year. Evaporative demand was higher, compared to average, in the southern part of the state than in the northwestern areas. Evaporative demand is basically how thirsty the air is for water. Higher evaporative demand means more water is lost to the air.
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