How is Utah’s spring runoff different now compared to 1983?

Apr 6, 2023, 8:30 PM

The Utah Avalanche Center says the mountains of Logan, Ogden, and Salt Lake are all at high risk fo...

Dave & Dujanovic discussed the differences between spring runoff in Utah now compared to 1983 with KSL-TV meteorologist Kevin Eubank. (Utah Avalanche Center, Logan)

(Utah Avalanche Center, Logan)

SALT LAKE CITY — With so much snow in Utah’s mountains, the significance of the spring runoff has been a topic of discussion for many people lately.

To take that a step further, how does this year’s potential flooding compare to the flooding of 1983? 

KSL-TV meteorologist Kevin Eubank joined Dave & Dujanovic with hosts Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic on Thursday to discuss this topic.

Dujanovic begins the conversation by referencing a state website that tracks the water amount in the snowpack. As of Thursday, the chart showed the statewide average was at 29.8 inches of water in the snowpack. Last year at this time, the average was 12 inches of water in the snowpack.

In 1983, there were 26 inches of water in the snowpack.

Dujanovic asks Eubank, “What have we done since 1983 to eliminate what we saw happen in the Salt Lake Valley in 1983 when that snow started to melt?”

Eubank starts off by mentioning there are 70 inches of water in the snowpack at Snowbird and 82.6 inches of water in the snowpack at Ben Lomond Peak. 

“There’s a lot of water in the mountains and a lot of water that’s going to have to come down,” Eubank said. “But the good news, we have tons of capacity. So the statewide reservoir capacity is at 55 percent. So, we have room to put all this water, we can move this water and get it into the reservoirs.”

A trick to Utah’s spring runoff

However, Eubank says there is one catch to all of this.

“The trick is, is it going to melt in a timely fashion to allow us to use that water?” he said. “And that’s where 83 was totally different from anything we’ve seen.”

In 1983, Eubank says, the state was still adding to its snowpack all the way into early May, and then suddenly it got too hot.

To avoid serious flooding, Eubank says it all depends on how much Mother Nature cooperates with us.

“The trick is how hot is it going to get?” he said. “How fast is it going to get hot and how long is it going to stay hot? And that is something we are waiting for.”


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

Read more: As spring runoff begins, UHP says to expect more rockslides

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How is Utah’s spring runoff different now compared to 1983?