SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — A report from the Utah Division of Water Resources Tuesday revealed that the Great Salt Lake has risen two feet since its historic low in November 2022.
For context, the lake barely rose a foot the whole of 2022. Officials say this is a good start to the year as they prepare for Utah’s snowpack to reach its peak soon with spring runoff drawing closer.
In fact, as of March 1, new records for snow water equivalent were being made in various parts of Utah. More than 10 backcountry weather stations in Utah, also known as SNOpack TELemetry, are hitting record amounts of snow water equivalent never seen before in the past 30 years. The station in Vernon Creek has recorded 231% of its average snowpack while southwestern Utah is seeing snowpack 277% above its normal peak.
“The vast majority of Utah’s 137 SNOTEL sites are at, or above, the 85th percentile for SWE compared to their period of record, with 31 in the top five percent,” said officials at the Utah Division of Water Resources.
With that amount of snow and water, much of Utah is looking at coming out of the severe drought that had been plaguing the state for a while. The National Drought Mitigation Center states only 39% of Utah is currently in the “Severe Drought” category. That number is a significant decrease from 96% in October 2022.
While an unprecedented amount of snowpack brings good news to Utah’s water supply, residents should be aware of the possibility of flooding.
The Utah Division of Emergency Management is urging community members to work with their public works departments to help clear ditches, ditches and streambeds of any debris. Many cities across Utah have also initiated sandbag filling stations with the expectation of potential localized flooding.
“We want a gradual melt off during the spring that will not overwhelm our rivers and streams,” Candice Hasenyager, director of the Division of Water Resources, said. “The way our snowpack melts is something our division and the Utah Division of Emergency Management is monitoring closely.”
Last month, Gov. Spencer Cox issued an emergency order to raise the Great Salt Lake causeway berm to take advantage of the above-normal snowpack Utah has seen so far and capture as much spring runoff as possible. Officials also say raising the berm can help prevent saline water in the north to flow into the less salty south arm.
For water-saving tips, check out Slow The Flow.