Utah’s snowpack is double what it was last year, but still below normal

(Tanzi Propst/Park Record)
Tanzi Propst

It should come as no surprise that Utah’s snowpack is faring better this winter when compared to last year. One look at the Wasatch Range’s peaks shows evidence of the snow that has hammered the area in recent months.

The situation only improved as two storm systems moved through Northern Utah over the weekend, dropping nearly two feet of snow in some areas of the Wasatch Mountains. Park City received more than 20 inches of snow during the storms, according to the National Weather Service.

While the snowpack is currently double what it was during the 2017-2018 winter, it is still registering just below normal for this time of year, however, according to a report released Monday by the National Resources Conservation Service.

“Conversely, this year the snow water equivalent (SWE) in Utah is just below normal right now, and after the roller coaster winters we’ve had lately, we’ll gladly take an average water year,” the report states.

The snowpack statewide is currently at 92 percent of normal, compared to 51 percent this time last year, according to the report. The snow water equivalent in Southern Utah is at around 70 percent of normal, though, lagging behind the rest of the state.

A healthy snowpack during the winter means the spring runoff will produce much-needed water for the state’s reservoirs. But, some reservoirs in the southern part of the state are still in “dire need” of an average to above-average snowpack to recover to reasonable levels, according to the report.

The low amount of precipitation in 2017-2018 led to a heavy depletion of the state’s reservoirs over the summer. Snowpack in the Weber and Ogden River Basins is near normal at 93 percent, compared to 63 percent last year. But, precipitation in December was well below average at 55 percent. The Weber and Ogden Rivers feed into several reservoirs in Summit County, including Smith and Morehouse, Rockport and Echo.

“These data suggest that Utah needs to receive a little over 10 (inches) additional snow water equivalent this winter to continue to have an ‘average’ winter, so bring on the storms!” the report states.

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