SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (ABC4) – As the water year began on October 1 in 2021, it seemed like Utah was going to be set up for a big year. With a strong October and December, we were off to our best start in well over 10 years. But then, the new year brought the deluge down to a trickle as Utah saw a February total that was half as much as the January – which was already one of the driest on record. March and April had a few storms that tried to build us up, but then things went very still we saw a nice bit of monsoon rebound in August. We also had record-breaking heat and that hurt the results.
In the end, what stared with a fast start ended below our 30-year average. It was still better than the two previous years, but it wasn’t what we were wanting.
Totals in some of our cities still ended up above the normal averages. Logan, benefactors of a huge October, ended the water year at 18.38 inches. That is a little under 2 inches more than normal. Even Moab and Vernal were slightly above normal figures, but in the end most were below. In Salt Lake City the 13.14 inches was almost two and a half inches below normal, and Cedar City was close to two inches below the average totals.
Our reservoirs ended the period at 42% of capacity. The interesting part of this is that it is still close to last year’s total, a small victory given that our snowpack was only about 76% of normal. Having out reservoirs nearly holding steady is a testament to the conservation efforts of Utahns throughout the state. Earlier the state released a report showing that nearly 3 billion gallons of water were saved due to reductions in use.
But, as the new drought report was released today, we’re still living in a state that is over 55% in Exceptional drought condition and nearly 4% in Extreme drought. Those numbers did start to drop mid-summer (we were at over 90% Exceptional at one point), we have seen them holding steady at their current numbers for the last few weeks. Still, the good news is that the numbers are less than at this time last year.
As we begin the next water year the important thing to keep an eye on will be the moisture levels of our soil. At the moment they aren’t too bad, but the hope is to make sure they are stronger to help the runoff that will help bring the water to the reservoirs. If the soil is too dry the melting show will end up going right into the ground. Our best hope will be to keep the soil at least near its current state and get a good snow fall.