WEATHER

Utah snowpack: Where does it stand and how much more do we need?

Dec 14, 2022, 12:59 PM

snow in big cottonwood is pictured, adding to the Utah snowpack...

Snow in Big Cottonwood Canyon is pictured on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. (Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

(Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Recent storms have made for more than one difficult drive to work for a lot of Utahns over the past few weeks. But the rough commutes pale in comparison to the good they’ve done the Utah snowpack.

“It’s exactly what we need right now,” said Glen Merrill, Hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City.

Currently, snowpack levels across the state sit 152% above normal for this time of year, with some variance depending on the area. Merrill told KSL NewsRadio this is the best start since 2011, but we still need more.

 

Merrill said over the past few years, a 12-inch snow-water deficit built up. As of right now, we’ve only made up two inches, meaning we still need 10 on top of the normal snowfall.

And there’s no guarantee we’ll keep those two inches. Factors like warmer temperatures and dry weather can quickly undo the progress we’ve made.

Merrill noted, for example, that from late December 2021 to early January, we saw numbers similar to today’s, but we, “flatlined” after that, marking a poor finish for a once-promising winter.

Right now, anything can happen. Merrill said that based on the seasonal outlook from the Climate Prediction Center, there’s no indication of which way it’ll go, but for the rest of December, he thinks it’ll dry out a little.

“We typically don’t see peak snowpack accumulation…until the first week in April, so we have a long ways to go,” Merrill said.

Merrill said it’ll likely take more than one above-average year for snowpack and snow melt runoffs to undo the damage.

For now, hope for cold, snowy days going forward, because that could mean the difference between making a dent in this drought or falling further behind.

“Be happy for what we have right now, let’s keep the trend going,” Merrill said.

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Utah snowpack: Where does it stand and how much more do we need?