Worst Drought in Utah in 20 years

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah- (ABC 4 News) – At this point in 2020, any rain or snow is good rain or snow! The latest drought monitor published today by The National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln looks bleak for the State of Utah and the entire Intermountain West.

Almost half of Utah, 40 percent, is now under “Exceptional” drought conditions, the worst level of drought. However, 93 percent of the state remains under severe drought conditions and 87% under extreme drought conditions.

When comparing the last two droughts in Utah which date back to 2002, our ongoing drought for 2020 stands as the worst drought in at least 20 years. Data is sparse for any droughts prior to 1999, as the National Drought Mitigation Center was only established in 1999, to monitor countrywide and local droughts. In a normal precipitation year, Salt Lake City receives 16.1″. In 2020, Salt Lake City has received 8.61″ or about half of the annual precipitation since January 1.

In the drought years of 2002 and 2018, the cumulative precipitation amounts were 10.29″ and 13.21″ respectively. The worst year on record for annual precipitation was 8.7″ in 1970. Record-keeping began in 1874.

The state and the region will need a wet winter similar to the 2018-2019 winter to help bust out of this exceptional and historic drought the state finds itself in. It’s time to think of snow because any precipitation now will help our snowpack and reservoirs.

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