Dense, wet snow making a dent in Utah’s drought

Jan 5, 2023, 5:00 PM | Updated: 6:58 pm

SALT LAKE CITYThe storms that keep dumping wet snow on Utah are exactly what we need to recover from extended drought, and there’s another one moving in. There’s also improvement on the drought monitor map. 

The snowpack was doing well before Christmas, and it’s grown even more over the last couple of weeks.

The heavy, wet snow that is so difficult to shovel is great for drought recovery.

“Right now, we’re in good shape,” said Laura Haskell, drought coordinator for the Utah Division of Water Resources. “If we can just keep this coming; we just need the consistent storms.”

Utah currently has 168% of average snow water equivalent in the snowpack statewide. Utah’s mountains have received 10 inches of water since Oct. 1, with an average peak of nearly 16 inches snow water equivalent around April 1. But to replenish our reservoirs, we need more than average snow water equivalency over the next three months. 

Haskell said the density of the snow in recent storms makes a difference.

“Usually, it takes about 10 inches of snow to get an inch of water, and these last storms, we’ve had about an inch of water in about five inches of snow,” Haskell said. “So that’s great. If you’re shoveling it, it’s really heavy and not so good. But for the water, it’s great.”

That’s twice the typical amount of water in the snow in storms that began right after Christmas.

The drought monitor map just released Thursday shows nearly the entire state still affected by severe drought, but not as bad as it has been. 

“We’re still in the severe drought. The drought hasn’t gone away,” Haskell said. “But it has gotten just a little bit better where we’re not in that extreme condition as much.”

Areas of extreme and exceptional drought are smaller than they were six months ago.

“We are seeing a lot of improvement in our snowpack, which is good. We’re hoping that we don’t follow what we did last year,” the drought coordinator said. “We got pretty optimistic, and then we just didn’t have any storms for five weeks or so.“

That dry period in January and February depleted Utah’s snowpack last year, and it never recovered.

“It was five, almost six weeks to have just nothing added to the snowpack.”

Great news three months into the water year as long as the storms keep coming. 

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Utah Drought 2021

Work on the Great Salt Lake berm...
Carter Williams

Cox orders Great Salt Lake causeway berm to be raised another 5 feet

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed a new executive order Friday, calling on the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands to raise the Great Salt Lake causeway berm by 5 feet.
3 days ago
Tooele sunrise...
Carter Williams, KSL.com

Snow advisories could bring up to 14 inches of snow Friday night

The snow is back, yet again. The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for the Wasatch Mountains, where 6 to 14 inches or more of snow is forecast between Friday and Saturday. It remains in effect through late Saturday afternoon.
10 days ago
pink clouds are resting on dark blue mountains....
Carter Williams, ksl.com

Utah’s snowpack to get another boost, as another storm arrives this weekend

Utah's mountain snowpack is about to get another boost.
24 days ago
Snow depth doubled in 30 days...
Jed Boal

Researcher: Snow depth doubles in 30 days at some sites

The snow keeps piling up quickly in Utah’s mountains, delivering the kind of water that communities need to climb out of the extended drought.  
26 days ago
Little Cottonwood Canyon closed for avalanche mitigagtion Monday...
Cary Schwanitz

Utah braces for another round of snow

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for Utah’s southern mountains for Thursday as another storm moves in.
1 month ago
Sundance downed trees...
Ladd Egan

Full power expected to be restored at Sundance on Friday

Power restoration to Sundance Mountain Resort and surrounding homes is taking longer than expected after the latest storm dumped more than four feet of snow on the area.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Dense, wet snow making a dent in Utah’s drought