UTAH'S WATER

Utah’s encouraging early snowpack turns into desperate need for big storms

Feb 10, 2022, 4:10 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 4:16 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – December was a great month for Utah’s snowpack, but that was followed by one of the driest Januarys on record. Utah desperately needs more of those December storms. 

The new year started with a lot of promise that Utah might start to recover from the severe drought that gripped the state. But right now it’s 50 days from the beginning of April, which is when the Utah snowpack typically peaks. Unfortunately, the snowpack has dropped below average and the water equivalent in that snow was below 90%. 

“This snow season has been a roller coaster. We’ve had huge highs and really depressing lows,” said Hydrologist Jordan Clayton, supervisor of the Utah Snow Survey. 

The statewide snow water equivalent has plummeted from 135% early last month to 90% today. That leaves Utah about five inches below average. 

What kind of storms would it take to get back to average? 

“If we think about those storms that we received at the end of December and the beginning of January. If we had a handful of those we would get up to where we need to be by April,” said Clayton. “That’s totally achievable. Unfortunately, the forecast doesn’t look very encouraging right now.” 

Mount Timpanogos overlooks a depleted Jordanelle Reservoir. (KSL TV) Mount Timpanogos overlooks a depleted Jordanelle Reservoir. (KSL TV) Snowpack on Utah's mountains has declined over the past several weeks. (KSL TV)

Getting back to average this year would not make a dent in the extended drought which has left Utah more than 11 inches below normal. Utah needs several years of above-average snowpack to begin to replenish reservoirs and groundwater. 

On the positive side, the soil moisture is better than average and better than a year ago.  

“That is encouraging because that does boost our efficiency of how much water we get when all the snow starts to melt,” Clayton said. “We saw last year what happens when we had extremely dry soils. We lost so much of that water that was stored in the snowpack to the headwaters soils, and we didn’t get very much of that downstream pretty.” 

When the soil is saturated, more of the runoff makes it into the reservoir. So that’s one advantage over last year. 

KSL 5 TV Live

Utah's Water

Jordanelle Reservoir. 12/19/2033 (Michael Jefferson)...

Eliza Pace

Utah’s water conditions, including snowpack, look ‘optimistic,’ experts say

Storms from January have increased snowpack levels and Utah's water supply shows signs of "resilience and abundance."

9 days ago

Utah Lake water release...

Alex Cabrero

Utah Lake release sends 300 million gallons of water a day into the Great Salt Lake

The Utah Lake control gates in Saratoga Springs opened Thursday morning to release water into the Great Salt Lake.

15 days ago

Kids building igloo...

Adam Small, KSL NewsRadio

Utah snowpack is now in great shape

What a difference a month can make. Data revealed that statewide, the Utah snowpack has grown to over 100%. In some regions, it has reached over 120%. 

15 days ago

Great Salt Lake bed...

Mike Anderson

Dust from Great Salt Lake helps algal blooms thrive, study finds

A new study is putting a large part of the blame for algal blooms on blowing dust.

17 days ago

A mix of water and snow on the Snowbasin road. (...

Mike Anderson

Weather analysts say February wet storms will increase snowpack

February is bringing some strong numbers when it comes to Utah's snowpack along the Wasatch Front.

18 days ago

Sign showcasing information about the Great Sale Lake Shorelands preserve....

Amy Joi O'Donoghue, Deseret News

Invasive phragmites are needlessly sucking water out of Great Salt Lake

An invasive plant species is using excessive water around the Great Salt Lake.

21 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Utah’s encouraging early snowpack turns into desperate need for big storms