SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah drought got an assist this week from a monsoonal storm that poured water across the state. In some instances, the rain is breaking records for rainfall totals.
For example, an area on Cedar Canyon Road near Cedar Breaks National Monument in Iron County saw more than 7 inches of rainfall over the last two days.
In Delta, Utah, the National Weather Service reported that four inches of rain fell within a 16-hour period between Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. That city’s previous 24-hour record was 1.45 inches.
The city of New Harmony also got more than five inches yesterday. Murray and Suncrest got around four inches. Lehi saw four and a half inches of rain.
— NWS Salt Lake City (@NWSSaltLakeCity) August 19, 2021
The rainfall has some Utahns asking if Utah will be lifted out of our megadrought.
Not quite yet.
Rain and Utah’s megadrought
BYU geology professor Matt Bekker told KSL Newsradio that a megadrought occurs when an area has been in drought conditions for at least 19 years. The National Integrated Drought Information System reports that Utah has been under drought conditions since 2000.
So this drought is well-established.
According to a report from the Deseret News, Utah will need nearly 12 inches of rainfall between now and the time the snow falls to be considered at “normal” precipitation levels. The Deseret News reports that Utah water managers don’t expect the state to receive that much more water before winter.
The end of the Utah drought starts with soaking rain
So Utah will likely remain in drought despite this week’s rainfall, but there is some really good news.
The U.S. Geological Survey says that “soaking rains are the best medicine to alleviate drought.” Here’s what happens, water enters the soil and recharges the groundwater. That water feeds crops and streams when it’s not raining.
The USGS also says that multiple soaking rainshowers may be needed to return an area to a normal precipitation range.
KSL Meteorologist Grant Weyman agrees.
“This is all helping the really dry soil. Anything to help get a solid snowpack and good spring runoff next year into the reservoirs,” said Weyman.
One more benefit to all of this rain is that you can put your sprinkler system on rain delay (which is also great for our reservoirs).
And maybe do some weeding, which is easier when the soil is wet.
Finally, yet another benefit of Utah’s recent storms? Snow in the high country, for those who eagerly await a Utah winter.
— Wasatch Snow Forecast (@WasatchSnow) August 19, 2021
Simone Seikaly contributed
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