Utah’s water year comes to a close on a high note…for some

Weather

The water year has officially come to a close and the numbers are in. Salt Lake City just had their 10th wettest water year since 1874 ending any short term worries about drought.

A water year begins every October 1 and lasts until September 30 the following year, and as September ends, the heavily populated Wasatch Front and most of Western Utah can celebrate Governor Herbert’s removal of his 2018 executive order.

The order declared the state of Utah under a state of emergency due to severe drought conditions. 

In a normal water year, Salt Lake City receives 16.1″ of precipitation. This number is based upon a 30-year average beginning in 1981 and lasting until 2010. The 2018-2019 water year received 21.65″ placing it 10th all-time. The wettest water year was 1981-1982 when 25.15″ fell. The next most recent substantial water year for precipitation was in 2011-2012 when 23.64″ fell.

Beginning in January, Salt Lake City recorded 14.21″ of precipitation, rain and snow combined, making it the wettest first 5 months of any year since records began in 1874. This includes a 3 month period from March to May that saw Salt Lake City re-write the record books with 3 consecutive months of more than 3 inches of rainfall.

Since the institution of the executive order last October, the state of Utah has seen a remarkable transformation of our drought which began with 99% of the state in a moderate drought and some areas as high as exceptional, like SE Utah and Central Utah.

Since then, all of Eastern Utah and Southern Utah have seen the complete removal of the drought only to have a new one begin. Currently, SE Utah and the Arizona strip, including St. George have returned to a moderate drought due to little to no precipitation over the last several months.

St. George has seen the largest variation between the wettest and driest periods ever. From January 1 to May 31, St.George recorded 12 inches of rain. This smashed the previous record from 1980 when 9.67 inches fell. From June 1 to September 30, only 0.07 inches of rain fell making for the 2nd driest period ever.

Also, the last time St. George received any type of measurable rainfall was on June 17, a stretch of 105 straight days without rain, the 3rd longest streak ever. This current dry spell is the direct reason as to why Eastern and Southern Utah is back in a dry to moderate drought.

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