UTAH (ABC4) – As Utah continues experiencing an unprecedented drought, environmentalists are constantly hoping Mother Nature will replenish Utah’s water levels.
With recent snowstorms and moisture blanketing Utah, how much did the weather activity help snowpack levels?
“Utah has been in drought eight of the last 10 years, and this year’s disappointing snowpack is not going to pull the state out of drought,” said Brian Steed, executive director of the Department of Natural Resources. “The recent snowstorms were beneficial, however, they added less than an inch of water to our snowpack. We are urging all Utahns to use water responsibly and to check with local water providers for potential water restrictions.”
The Utah Division of Water Resources (DNR) says currently, 99.39% of Utah is currently experiencing severe drought, with 36.89% of Utah is in extreme drought.
Water officials say so far, 95% of Utah’s water supply comes from snowpack. Above-average storms are still needed to replenish reservoirs. At this point, officials say there is a “low chance of these below-normal snow levels refilling Utah’s reservoirs.”
Snowpack levels are currently at 75% of median, peaking at around 12 inches if the snowpack melted which officials say happened two weeks earlier than expected.
Twenty-eight of Utah’s largest 45 reservoirs are below 55% of its available capacity. Utah’s statewide storage is at 58% of capacity, about nine percent less than last year at the same time.
Soil moisture is above-average for this time of year at 6%. Officials say wet soils are critical for effective spring runoff. Of the 95 measured streams, 51 streams are flowing below normal despite spring runoff. Eight streams are flowing at record low conditions.
Temperatures during the month of March ran above-average, causing snowpack to melt quicker.
“Above-average temperatures can cause the snowpack to melt and increase the demand of the air and land for water,” experts say. “It also means the demand for irrigation water can be triggered earlier. Although, some secondary water systems are delaying water availability in an effort to stretch the water supply.”
Officials say thankfully April temperatures have cooled a bit, slowing the melt progression.
The Great Salt Lake’s water elevation levels are rising after dropping to a new record low back in Oct. 2021. It’s currently at 4191.1 feet. Officials say an inflow will be needed to withstand the typical summer drop of around 2.3 feet.
To see the full Utah drought report, click here.