Thanks to exceptional winter, Utah inches out of “exceptional” drought

Jan 24, 2023, 11:56 AM | Updated: 11:57 am

For the first time in nearly four years, no areas of Utah are considered to be under severe drought...

FILE: LEFT: A street sign is almost covered with snow near Brighton Ski Resort in January 2023 (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) RIGHT: The Great Salt Lake in September, 2022. (Ben B. Braun, Deseret News).

(Ben B. Braun, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Frequent storms and cooler weather have helped raise Utah’s snowpack to 183% of normal according to the Utah Division of Water Resources.

In other words, and at least so far, Utah is having its best winter in nearly 20 years. The Division said the state hasn’t had 183% of normal snowpack since 2005. And officially the state has at least two more months of winter.

“These snow totals are a welcome sight and have given a much-needed boost to our snowpack,” said Candice Hasenyager, director of the Division of Water Resources in a press release.

Will December’s big storms make a difference for the Great Salt Lake?

“Every basin in Utah is reporting over 150% of normal snowpack. This is great news, especially for basins such as the Upper and Lower Sevier, which have seen dwindling water supplies in the last few years.”

However, most of the state is classified as being in severe or extreme drought according to the Utah Drought Monitor. Utah water officials said we’ll need multiple years of snowpack, just as the state has had so far this year, to fill reservoirs as well as shore up Utah’s water supply.

Shipwrecks uncovered in the Great Salt Lake

The Utah drought news this week comes on the heels of the announcement last week that the Great Salt Lake had risen a foot since a historic low that was recorded in November 2022. The Division said the lake’s rising level is due to direct precipitation and inflow.

The Utah Division of Water Resources said they will investigate whether a causeway breach modification that occurred last summer may have impacted what they call a quick rise in lake levels.

(U.S. Drought Monitor)


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Thanks to exceptional winter, Utah inches out of “exceptional” drought