Utah snowpack tied with 40-year-old record, poised to beat it this weekend
The snow water equivalent reached 26 inches on Friday morning and was expected to continue rising
This ski season is officially tied with Utah’s best winter on record, and it’s expected to only get better from here.
Midweek storms boosted the state’s snowpack, helping the snow water equivalent, or the amount of water there would be if the snow melted, reach 26 inches on Friday morning, according to Utah Snow Survey Supervisor Jordan Clayton. The previous known record was set in April of 1983, which is three years after the first SNOTEL sites were installed.
“As of right now we’ve tied the 1983 record, but it’s possible that the graph will update later this morning,” Clayton said on Friday. “If it’s not broken today, it’ll definitely be broken [on Saturday] given the additional precipitation we’ve received since midnight.”
The current snowpack is around 191% of normal, according to the Utah Snow Survey. Officials had estimated in late February the state’s snow water equivalent might reach 22 inches, or 155% of normal, by the April peak. The month was one of the snowiest Februarys ever recorded in state history, according to the Utah Division of Water Resources.
Last week, the snowpack beat previous snow water equivalent records on multiple days. It reached higher than 23.1 inches on March 15 after yet another winter storm dumped snow on much of the state. It reached 24 inches later in the week and continued to climb.
With more storms forecasted throughout the rest of March, snow experts expect the snowpack to continue making gains even as the peak approaches.
According to a drought report, 10 SNOTEL sites were reporting record high levels of snow water equivalent and seven sites were reporting second highest compared with the last 30 years as of March 1. The state has received more snow water equivalent this water year than during all of last winter.
Officials say this is good news for the state’s water supply. Around 39% of Utah is in a severe drought as of Tuesday compared to October, when 96% of the state was in the same category. Half of the monitored reservoirs are below 55%, which is around the same level as this time last year, according to the report. The Great Salt Lake has also risen around two feet since the historic low set in November. Both the reservoirs and the lake are still below normal for this time of year.
Soil moisture is also around 4% above normal for this time of year, sitting around 56%, which will help ensure the spring runoff isn’t sucked into dry ground. However, there are also concerns about flooding once winter ends.
“We want a gradual melt off during the spring that will not overwhelm our rivers and streams,” Candice Hasenyager, the director of the Division of Water Resources, said in a prepared statement. “The way our snowpack melts is something our division and the Utah Division of Emergency Management are monitoring closely.”
The County Courthouse has started its own preparations to help mitigate risk, including providing sandbags to residents and offering text notifications throughout the 2023 flooding season using the county’s emergency alert system. Visit summitcountyalerts.org for more information.
Hasenyager advocated for Utahns to take “full advantage” of the snowpack by taking steps to be drought resilient. Experts continue to emphasize it will take several years to end the drought even amid a historic winter.
Park City Council contest draws nine, some with established names and others with political newcomer status
The period when candidates needed to file campaign paperwork closed on Wednesday. There was not a rush of interest in the final hours, but the field is an intriguing one nonetheless.
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