For the first time since 2011, Utah free of drought conditions

Posted at 6:39 PM, Mar 19, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY -- For the first time since 2011, Utah is officially in the clear when it comes to drought conditions.

The National Weather Service said thanks to the wet winter and the recent run of warm, dry weather, our snowpack is healthy and lower-level snow has melted into our rivers and reservoirs.

At Jordanelle Reservoir on Sunday, Deb Hartley and Doug Thomsen spent the morning stand-up paddle boarding.

“We're just starting the season early,” Hartley said. “It's so beautiful out, and it's springtime and the weather is beautiful.”

The warm temperatures are certainly unusual for Utah right now, but this winter season has been anything but ordinary when you compare it to the last several years.

“Most areas are well above average as far as water supply goes,” said Monica Traphagan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

She said snowpack and water supply are looking good, thanks to the heavy winter. A snow water equivalent map from the NWS shows a huge portion of northern Utah covered in light and dark hues of blue—which represent 100 to 200 percent of normal levels.

“When you are looking at water supply, that's what you want to see,” Traphagan said.

Another map shows that nearly all river and reservoir levels statewide are sitting at normal or above-normal levels.

A current drought map for the state shows that Utah currently has zero drought conditions, a huge milestone for the area.

“It eases the burden on people who are running the reservoirs,” Traphagan explained. “Less worry for our water supply.”

But, she added, the state will need a steady stream of wet weather to continue through the spring in order to continue to make a difference in water levels this summer.

For the stand-up paddle boarders, plenty of water will make it that much better.

“It's going to really make the reservoirs a fun place to be,” Thomsen said.