Meteorologists say last week’s storms puts the state above normal, and call it ‘season-saving’

Jan 15, 2024, 6:13 PM | Updated: 6:43 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — KSL TV meteorologist Matt Johnson called last week’s storms a “season-saving storm cycle.”

Johnson says the week-long series of storms increased the state’s snowpack numbers from 73% to 102% of normal.

“This was big,” Johnson said. “To have northern Utah, where the brunt of the snow loading typically is on a snow year, to have it back where it should be, we couldn’t ask for more.”

The snowfall in the last week includes 86 inches in Alta, 80 inches in Solitude, Brighton 73 inches, and Powder Mountain 64 inches. That’s more than 7 feet of snow in some places.

“This storm cycle originally started January 4,” Johnson said. “If you factor in the numbers from January 4 until now, about 10 or 11 days, that’s 113 inches in Alta. That’s amazing.”

It’s also amazing when you consider what this means for the state’s water situation. According to the latest figures, that much snow will double Utah’s water in some areas, including Big Cottonwood Canyon.

KSL TV meteorologist Matt Johnson called last week’s storms a “season-saving storm cycle.” (Dan Rascon, KSL TV)

Last week’s storms put Utah at 7.2 inches of water this season, which is just above 100 percent.“It’s pretty significant,” said Hayden Mahan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City. “Some areas doubled the amount of water. It was getting to the point where it was starting to look bleak. We needed this storm in order to catch us back up. We were not going to catch back up with a run-of-the-mill storm.”

Impact on reservoirs

Mahan says even though the state is well below last year’s record snowfall, reservoirs around the state are much more full than they were last year at this time. He says right now they are at about 80%. Compared to this time last year, reservoirs were at about 40%.

“We actually have less capacity to hold extra water,” Mahan said. “So this will be important when it comes run off season of how much water we can take before we have to start releasing water.”

But then again, a lot can happen with Mother Nature between now and May.

“We still have a long way to go,” he said.

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Meteorologists say last week’s storms puts the state above normal, and call it ‘season-saving’