‘The unknowns really revolve around the weather’: Experts monitor spring runoff after above average winter

Apr 9, 2024, 5:33 PM | Updated: 6:24 pm

SALT LAKE CITY Now that it’s spring following another above average snowpack, concerns over flooding in parts of the state are rising.

Salt Lake City National Weather Service hydrologist Glen Merrill is monitoring flows.

“This is the first year where we’ve had back-to-back above average snowpack years since 2005, 2006,” Merrill said.

He said the snow water equivalent from this year and last year added up is significant.

“We essentially had three winters in two,” he said.

Merrill said this year’s snowmelt runoff season has just started.

“I like to look at the snowmelt runoff season as a marathon versus a sprint,” he said. “[It] begins around April and it continues all the way through June.”

The outlook

He said his runoff outlook is good.

“Right now, we are not forecasting flooding, we’re not seeing that potential, unless things go awry,” Merrill said.

He’s constantly monitoring reservoirs that are near capacity.

“If things play out like they normally do, we should see just an efficient runoff,” he said.

Merrill said the snow at low and mid elevations is melting gradually.

“The sunny aspects, the south facing aspects, we’re bringing that piece down now,” he said.

But it’s too soon to say if we’ll have a Memorial Day meltdown.

“The unknowns really revolve around the weather,” Merrill said, adding in there’s always a possibility we get another late season snowstorm, or other weather events.

Merrill said if we continue at this rate, it’s good news.

“I just really want to enhance how positive it is that we’re in this situation right now, especially after how dire things looked at the tail end of that drought period,” he said.

He still encourages property owners to be aware of where they’re located.

“If you’re a homeowner that lives along a creek or river, there’s a lot of information available, even through the state of Utah on their web pages for flood inundation mapping,” he said. “Are you in a flood zone?”

Merrill said the Great Salt Lake will rise, as well.

“There’s going to be a lot of water getting to the Great Salt Lake,” he said.

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‘The unknowns really revolve around the weather’: Experts monitor spring runoff after above average winter