Hydrologist says recent cold, wet weather great for Utah’s water supply

Posted at 8:18 PM, Mar 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-30 22:18:19-04

PARK CITY, Utah -- Recent storms in Utah have greatly improved the water levels we should have in our reservoirs this summer, and hydrologists say the situation had not been looking good until now.

Local hydrologists say they're feeling better about the outlook of runoff into our reservoirs, but they said what happens in the next few weeks is critical.

Brian McInerney, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City, said the weather warmed up quite a bit in February and in the first half of March.

Those warm temperatures melted snow in the low and mid-level elevations, which he said was bad news for the spring run-off totals and the state’s water supply.

However, thanks to late March storms, the snowmelt stopped. McInerney said it’s important to pay attention to what happens next.

“Overall this weather pattern that we're seeing, if we can keep this cold and wet, this is going to help us out a lot,” he said. “What we don't want to see is warm and dry with a lot of sunshine, or we're going to go the other way pretty quick.”

He said we need our weather to stay wet and cold if we want to get our water supply back on track.

"What we want to see is progressive storminess, one after another, and really about three a week would be great,” McInerney said.

The hydrologist said the snowpack typically reaches its largest size the first week of April, and, after that, it begins to melt.

McInerney said, right now, the snowpack is at about 80 to 95 percent of average in the higher elevations. While in the lower elevations where the snow melted, it’s a different story.

He said we can get to 100 percent, if April stays cold, wet and stormy.