UTAH DROUGHT

Utah drought picture still looks grim in spite of recent rainfall

Sep 20, 2021, 5:30 AM | Updated: 10:29 am

great salt lake drought utah...

Pink water washes over a salt crust on May 4, 2021, along the receding edge of the Great Salt Lake. The lake has been shrinking for years, and a drought gripping the American West could make this year the worst yet. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY — The drought in Utah remains a problem, and even the best of winters will not completely erase it, according to forecasters. 

Utah drought ain’t over till it’s over

“No, the drought is definitely not over,” said KSL Meteorologist Kevin Eubank.

Over 20% of the state remains in “excessive drought,” the worst category, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Roughly 88% of Utah is still in “extreme drought,” the second-worst category. 

“No storm cycle, no season is going to get us out of a multi-year drought. Generally speaking, holistically, it takes as long to get out of a drought as it takes to get in a drought,” Eubank said. 

That means even an exceptional amount of precipitation through the coming fall, winter, and spring won’t do the trick.

A tipping point for water reserves

In normal years, Utah receives enough precipitation to store about a two-year reserve in reservoirs, pipelines, and our secondary and primary water systems. However, this has not been a normal year. 

“Haven’t had good precipitation, it’s been exceptionally dry …. we’re now on the second year of our reserves. There’s nothing left,” said Eubank. 

Eubank flatly declared the reserves are so depleted that the state cannot get through another summer without getting significant water in the coming months. 

Best-case and worst-case scenarios for Utah drought

Ideally, if the state receives significant rainfall through the fall and lots of snow in the winter, that will help replenish the ground soil. 

“So that when the snow comes, that snow when it melts doesn’t go back into the ground to recharge the soil moisture; it runs off into our reservoirs and streams,” Eubank said. 

According to the meteorologist, the state will not even need to receive a normal amount of rain and snow to hold us off next year. 

If the state does not get 75% of normal the amount of precipitation or more, that will cause big problems for 2022. 

“We’re talking major restrictions next year,” Eubank said. “And, we’re not talking secondary. Secondary systems would likely be shut down. The culinary water, the drinking water, the stuff we use in our homes, that would be in peril if we don’t get the kind of water we need.” 

Eubank remains optimistic

The weatherman said he believes Utah will probably receive average or above-average precipitation this fall, winter, and spring. 

“I really do think we’re going to get a good fall, followed by a good winter, and followed by a good spring,” Eubank said. 

If that does happen, we can get by next year. However, that does not bust the Utah drought. That could take years. 

Read more:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Utah Drought

Fields in Utah County, near Spanish Fork, on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024....

Adam Small

Utah Legislature passes criticized, generational out-of-state water bill

The bill creates a new council with authority to negotiate with nearby states to get more water into Utah.

2 days ago

great salt lake shown, a bill to preserve the lake has passed...

Peter Johnston

Resolution asks municipalities to boost water conservation efforts

A new resolution aims to promote conservation efforts in cities and counties to reduce the impact on farmers.

12 days ago

Brine shrimp...

Amie Schaeffer

Brine shrimp cyst collection at Great Salt Lake up over 50%. Is the berm to thank?

About 29 million pounds of brine shrimp cysts were harvested at the lake this past season, a huge increase from the year before.

15 days ago

Kelby Johnson stands next to a sand filtration system for drip irrigation on his 100-acre farm in B...

Carter Williams, KSL.COM

Utah passes agriculture water optimization measure, weighs another change

A Utah bill tied to agriculture water optimization was passed Wednesday another advanced through a committee.

16 days ago

FILE: Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, presides over the Senate at the Capitol in Salt Lake...

Adam Small

Utah lawmakers advance bill that seeks water sources outside state lines

The bill would create a Water District Water Development Council, which would be charged with looking for new Utah water sources.

19 days ago

Salton Sea dust storm...

Saige Miller, KUER

Lakebed dust is a worry in Utah. For California’s Salton Sea, it’s a full-blown problem

Lakebed dust from the Salton Sea is so bad, residents of Coachella Valley say many of them have asthma or allergies.

19 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Utah drought picture still looks grim in spite of recent rainfall