SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Experts have said it will take several years of above-average winter snowfalls to lift Utah out of its ongoing drought. While last winter’s heavy snowfall helped relieve the state’s water woes slightly, the drought is slowly creeping back across the state.

The latest Drought Monitor update shows a 10% increase in the state considered to be in “abnormally dry” drought conditions. Meanwhile, 9.7% of the state has entered a “moderate drought” stage.

Thanks to the long winter, Utah’s drought looks significantly better than it did this time last year.

In July 2022, there was not a single corner of the state that was out of drought conditions. In fact, 83.5% of Utah was deep into “Extreme Drought.”

(Use the slider in the middle of the picture to compare this year to last year.)

Utah’s Drought Monitor in July 2022 compared to July 2023 (Courtesy U.S. Drought Monitor)

Utahns should still be hesitant to celebrate. While it feels like the drought may be over because of the record-breaking snowfall that provided Utah with over 30 inches of snow water equivalent, in reality, the drought is far from over.

It’s been seasonal whiplash with seemingly no transition from the long harsh winter to the extreme heat of summer. Southern Utah is passing the three-week mark of consecutive triple-digit heat. Meanwhile, the Salt Lake City area has been in 90-degree or higher temperatures every day in July except one.

Now that an El Niño weather pattern has settled in, weather experts are expecting even more extreme temperatures. Utah specifically could expect a warmer and drier winter under the El Niño weather pattern, positioning the state to once again long for snowfall and water.

Water conservation is more important now than it ever was before.

Utah’s reservoirs are largely full, currently at 92% of capacity. Now officials say it’s about keeping that water for as long as possible, especially with drier conditions on the horizon.

The Utah Department of Water Resources has plenty of resources that can help Utahns do their part in conserving water. These resources include a lawn watering guide and incentive programs to convert your lawn into more water-friendly landscapes that still look nice without the grass.