Utah dodges worst effects of drought, with hopes for a better winter

Posted at 6:35 PM, Jul 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-24 20:35:21-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Heavy rainfall in May and July seem to have pushed back the worst effects of a four-year drought, though just barely.

National Weather Service Hydrologist Brian McInerney says Utah reservoirs are not in great shape, especially the largest.

"The smallest ones all filled during the spring snow melt for the most part, but the largest ones: Lake Mead, Lake Powell, Bear Lake--they're all very low, and that's a good indication of where we've been for the past four years," McInerney said.

McInerney said the drought is due to a pattern of high pressure holding over Utah and keeping storms at bay, but he hopes a strong El Nino breaks that pattern this winter.

"You can put your finger on a strong El Nino and then put your finger on southern Utah and typically when you have a strong El Nino we have cool wet conditions in southern Utah," said McInerney, adding that El Ninos don't have as predictable an effect on northern Utah.

"On the other hand we've had some of our biggest years in a strong El Nino...1983 and 1997," McInerney said.