Friday, April 25, 2014

December storms boost Utah's snowpack

By Amy Joi O'Donoghue, Deseret News

Published: Fri, Dec. 6 1:50 p.m. MST

 Utah's water year is off to a good start with a series of storms that have helped to replenish bone-dry soils and put moisture-giving snow in the mountains.

Utah's water year is off to a good start with a series of storms that have helped to replenish bone-dry soils and put moisture-giving snow in the mountains.

(Jordan Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — It may be bone-chilling, record-setting cold out there across the state, but it is not enough to freeze the progress of a Saturday storm that will bring a plentiful helping of snow.

While it won't be as big of a storm as the one that pounced Tuesday, this weekend's delivery of snow is part of a bigger weather pattern that's putting a smile on the face of Utah's biggest snow fan: Randy Julander.

"We like where we are right now," said Julander, who is the Utah Snow Survey supervisor for the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service.

"We're very much encouraged. The one (pattern) that sets up early tends to be predominant," he said.

The service's latest report looking at Utah's water climate and water outlook says the state's water year that began Oct. 1 is 80 percent of average. Reservoir storage remains at just 50 percent, but Julander notes it is early in the accumulation season, with months to go.

Southeastern Utah has taken a good thumping when it comes to precipitation, racking up 130 percent of normal for November totals and measuring at 111 percent of normal for the water accumulation season so far.

"If you start looking up north, however, the snowpacks have not generated as well and are in the 70 to 80 percent range," he said.

Snowpack accumulation in the Bear River, Weber-Ogden and Provo-Jordan basins are all below 70 percent — well below normal — since Oct. 1, so Julander said it would be best if a strong pattern of storms could continue.

Utah has endured back-to-back years of dismal precipitation totals, setting in motion persistent drought that has fueled destructive wildfire seasons, crop losses and impacts to cattle ranchers.

Spring runoff that has peaked early during both of those years led to reductions in irrigation water for farms and homes, as well as sharp declines in reservoir levels that have harmed boating and fishing.

Statewide reservoir storage is 11 percent below where it was at this time last year.

Email: amyjoi@deseretnews.com, Twitter: amyjoi16

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1. Hutterite
American Fork, UT,
Dec. 6, 2013

Bone chilling? I'm in Calgary enjoying some of that good old socialised medical care. You should see what this storm system is doing here.