UTAH DROUGHT

Hydrologists ‘alarmed’ at current Utah water levels and drought outlook

Feb 10, 2022, 7:34 PM

utah drought soil moisure conservation in the west...

File photo: A marker buoy is grounded on the dried-up shore of Echo Reservoir at Echo State Park during a drought on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Hydrologists say it’s time to be alarmed at Utah water levels, with snowpack levels back below normal.  They say we still need three or four strong storms to hit Utah before the snowpack peaks. Utah only has 54 days left in the snow season.

Utah water levels

The outlook is grim, according to water officials.  The Utah Division of Water Resources published their latest findings, showing over 93 percent of the state is still in “severe drought,” while over 33 percent could be considered as in “extreme drought.”  Out of the 63 streams the division measures, 39 of them are flowing below normal.

National Weather Service Hydrologist Glen Merrill says gauging the snow water equivalent this season has been like a roller coaster, with December feeling like an exciting climb and January feeling like a terrifying fall.

“Once again, we’ve just flat-lined.  If anything, we’ve lost some snow,” Merrill said.

A positive sign

The one positive sign is that soil moisture is slightly above average for this time of year, which is far better than 2021.  Merrill estimates we have between 90 and 95 percent of the snow water equivalent that we would normally have this time of year.  However, we are woefully short of what we need to have by the beginning of April. That is when the snowpack normally peaks.

He said, “We’re sitting at about 54 percent of our normal peak, and we’re two-thirds of the way through our snow accumulation season.”

Utah Snow Survey Supervisor Jordan Clayton agrees that a very dry January significantly hurt any chances we would have of getting water levels close to normal this year.

“The gains that we had received at the end of December and early January… the boost that we received that got us up to about 135 percent of normal at the beginning of the month have now deteriorated to the point where, now, we’re below normal,” Clayton said.

Hope is not lost

Is all hope lost?  Not necessarily.  Clayton says we need roughly 7 more inches of snow water equivalent to bring our levels to where they would normally be by April. And four strong storms could help us get there.  However, the state has seen a growing deficit in our reservoirs for the past three years. Clayton says a “normal” year wasn’t what we needed.

 “This winter, we needed an above normal winter in order to start replenishing our reservoir system,” he said.

Sadly, there is nothing in the forecast that makes water watchers believe we’ll get the storms we need by spring.

Read more:

We want to hear from you.

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

Utah Drought

great salt lake is pictured, a new trust and commissioner for it are on the horizon...

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.

5 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.

9 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.

10 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.

12 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.

13 days ago

Algal bloom dangers...

MIKE ANDERSON, KSL-TV

Dust from Great Salt Lake helps algal blooms thrive, study finds

A new study from the University of Utah shows dust from the lake bed of Great Salt Lake contributes to unhealthy algal blooms.

17 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.

Hydrologists ‘alarmed’ at current Utah water levels and drought outlook