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Snowpack in Utah after snowstorms

Posted at 7:21 PM, Feb 20, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY - Monday’s snowstorm was big enough to help out the slopes in Salt Lake County, but it did not do much for the local reservoirs.

“It was approximately a three-percent snowpack increase in the mountains… overall, water supply-wise it was a drop in the bucket,” said Salt Lake County National Weather Service Hydrologist Brian McInerney.

He said before the storm the county’s reservoirs were only 53 percent of average. Now they are 56 percent. The goal is to be 100 percent.

“Really, we’ve got reservoir contents that are about 80 percent full, so, our reservoirs are doing great and that is a direct result from the carryover from last year,” explained McInerney. “Last year we had 150 to almost 175 percent of average inflow to the reservoirs, so, we are doing great; and if you are going to have a year like this, with record low snowpack, record low precipitation, you want it following a giant year like we had last year and that is just what we are doing.”

He said we are changing the current weather pattern, which could lead to a snowier spring.

“We are moving out of this high-pressure ridge pattern at least for the next week to ten days and this is exactly what we need. We have a storm coming on Thursday another one on Sunday,” McInerney said.

He said this 2018 drought is a result of global warming.

“Is this a direct result of a warming climate? And the answer points to yes. When you look at the global pattern, the Arctic is warming faster than the equator and as a result, the jet stream is becoming more elongated, more like a sound wave, he said.  "As a result, the weather patterns are more stagnant; and when you look at 1980 up to the current year, these high-pressure weather patterns are becoming more commonplace.”

He said the current pattern used to last only four to six weeks, but this winter it has lasted 12 weeks.

“We are hoping for some monsoonal flow this summer to help alleviate the summer heat," McInerney said.