Recent rainfall not enough to beat drought, experts say

Posted at 9:43 PM, May 18, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-18 23:43:12-04

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- Thunderstorms rolling through Utah are causing both short- and long-term problems.  In Weber County, a canal jumped its banks, flooding some basements.

The storm flooded Weber County resident’s Greg Stowe’s basement. He said his 13-year-old son woke up and rolled out of bed to use the bathroom, “put his feet down and a big puddle of water in his room.”

On Monday the Stowes and a small army of neighborhood volunteers ripped up carpet, tore out drywall and trashed water logged baseboards.

“We’re looking at probably around $15,000 worth of damage,” Stowe said.

Bigger problems could be a few months down the line.

The rain is fueling the growth of grasses on public lands. If they dry out over the summer months, that could fuel wildfires. In the places wildfires have already scorched the earth, the storms present another problem.

“If you get a high intensity event on it, the probability of getting mud or debris flow is much, much higher,” said Randy Julander, a Hydrologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Julander was quick to point out, the rain is good.  Utah is in a drought and every drop helps.

“What we’re doing is saving the water that we do have,” he said. “That’s the big plus out of this thing.”

Julander added all the rain is not enough to bust the drought.

The hydrologist compared the water situation to earning half a salary for years.

One good month of earnings is not enough to refill your bank account. The same goes for a good month of rain. It helps, but Julander said, it’s just not enough and it’s not the same as snow.

“The only way to get water in that reservoir is from our snow melt,” Julander said.