National Weather Service says storms this week won’t dent drought much

Mar 22, 2021, 5:45 PM
NWS predicts 'skier's delight' storm, but little impact on our snowpack, Utah's drought...
(The National Weather Service building in Salt Lake City. File, Paul Nelson)
(The National Weather Service building in Salt Lake City. File, Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY — The National Weather Service in Salt Lake City says the storms this week won’t do much to dig into Utah’s drought conditions. And the spring outlook isn’t looking much better.

“The storms that we’re predicting over the next week’s time it’s going to be unsettled and cool, but they’re not significant enough to dig us out of that hole that we’re already in,” said Meteorologist Glen Merill.
Merill says all the rain we get from here through early April is very much needed for the snowpack. He also tells KSL the snowpack statewide is sitting at about 70-80% of normal for this time of year.
“So we only have a few more weeks to build up that last 20% so the chances of us getting to a normal snowpack at this point, are — really we’re only sitting at about a 10% chance of that happening.”
The snowpack is what fills the storage in Utah’s reservoirs, but it’s the soil moisture conditions that also play into how much water flows into them.
“Our soil moisture is at unprecedented dry levels right now,” Merill said.
That means when the snow melts, the water will absorb into the soil and less will fill the reservoirs. Merrill says the water supply forecast across the state is at about 40-60% of normal right now.
“Not only do we not have enough snow, the soil is so dry that when we melt the snow we’re expecting even lower water volumes for storage than we typically see.”

Urging Utahns to Conserve Water

Governor Spencer Cox recently declared an emergency drought declaration for Utah. Monday, the Division of Water Resources also reminded Utahns to conserve water going into the spring.
“Fix leaks, take shorter showers, run full loads, don’t let the water run, and delay outdoor watering as long as possible,” the PSA states.
They also provided a summary of other drought facts.
· 100% of Utah is in drought – which is extremely concerning for this time of year. · Despite recent storms, this winter’s snowpack (about 70% of average) hasn’t provided enough to offset the record dry conditions we saw last summer and fall. For snowpack to reach average, Utah’s mountains would need to receive the remaining 30% before it starts to melt significantly, typically the first week in April. There is around a 10% chance of this occurring. · Below-average snowpack and extremely dry soils will likely result in well-below normal runoff, making conservation more important than ever. · Finding ways to reduce water use is critical as we move into the summer months.

Spring Outlook

Merrill said Utah would need an “active storm cycle through May” to keep as much of the water in the snowpack as possible and help aid in moistening the soil before the snow melts. This would mean more runoff would make it to the reservoirs.
Cooler temperatures with wetter conditions are what we need to get there. But, Merrill says the forecasts aren’t looking good for Utah’s drought.
“Current outlooks through the remainder of the spring are actually forecasting above normal temperatures and most likely below normal precipitation,” he said.


Other Reading:

Gov. Cox declares Utah’s drought a state of emergency

Snow rollers, a rare weather phenomenon, turn up in Brigham City

Utah prepared for extreme weather conditions, Texas was not


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National Weather Service says storms this week won’t dent drought much