Snowpack off to a good start in Utah; much more snow needed over next few months
SALT LAKE CITY — The snowstorm that swept through Utah earlier this week delivered exactly what the state needs to start recovering from the extended drought. It’s still early in the snow season, but the storms that have delivered so far, and those in the forecast, give the snowpack the kind of start it needs.
The storm delivered about 1/3-inch of snow water equivalent, and about the same amount of precipitation averaged out across the state.
“That’s an excellent boost,” said Jordan Clayton, supervisor with the Utah Snow Survey. “Obviously, we want that number to continue to rise, but that’s definitely a nice boost.”
The snow water equivalent statewide is more than 150% of average, but it will not likely stay that high.
Clayton said, here’s one way to think about how much snow Utah needs to keep from falling further into water deficit.
“We’ve got about four months to go until we get to our typical peak snowpack around April 1, and we need about four times the amount of snow that we have on the ground right now. So, it’s kind of like two fours — we need about four times what we’ve got literally in our mountains right now, and we’ve got about four months to get there.”
That would deliver average snowpack for the season.
“Obviously, if we are going to rebound to the point where we are replenishing our reservoirs, making up for that deficit, we’re going to need more than that,” he said. “But if we could at least stay on track and have an average snowpack here, that would be really helpful.”
Utah has not had seasons like that for several years. Last year, a great start to the snow season dried up in January and February.
“We were doing so well up until right around the first week of January, and then the weather turned off for about two months.”
That’s why the hydrologist is cautious with his optimism. With a couple more storms in the forecast, Utahns can hang onto their optimism for now.
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