As we continue full steam ahead through mid-spring and towards the spring runoff, it’s safe to say that we had an exceptional and much needed wet and snowy winter and early spring across the region.
Before the winter season began, we were in a serious drought for most of the state, with an exceptional drought in parts of Central and SE Utah. It didn’t help that the 2017-2018 water year was one of the driest on record for Salt Lake City and the driest year on record for the state.
Our new water year began on October 1 and we have seen abundant rainfall in Salt Lake City. Since 1874, it has been the 6th wettest start to our water year (ending April 16 ) with 14.23 inches of rain.
The average rainfall for an entire water year is 16.1 inches, which ends on September 30.
Since January 1, Salt Lake City has received the 2nd most amount of rainfall (ending April 16) with 9.39 inches. In the past 30 days alone, much of northern Utah and parts of eastern Nevada and SW Wyoming have received up to 300% of the normal precipitation for the month.
What does this all mean with regards to our drought?
The latest drought monitor sent out by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has now eliminated the Wasatch Front, all of Central Utah, and most of Southern Utah from the drought with just a few pockets of abnormally dry conditions in the west deserts, SE Utah, and the Bear River Valley. Less than 2% of a moderate drought remains statewide.
What has been remarkable about this latest drought busting winter was how severe the drought was at the start of our new water year with 73% of the state under a severe drought, 47% under an extreme drought and 7% under an exceptional drought, the highest level on the drought scale. Just 3 months ago, 73% of the state remained in a severe drought, 5% under an extreme drought and just 2% in the exceptional category.
Thanks to mother nature, she provided the region with a constantly stormy and wet pattern most of the last 6 months allowing for our snowpack to build up in the mountains and plenty of rain to fall in our valleys. With temperatures warming up, expect a huge spring runoff to occur within the next few weeks statewide so be aware and safe around rivers and streams as they begin to rise.
For Utah’s most accurate forecast visit abc4.com/weather.