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New water year starting strong from unusually wet October in Utah

Posted at 10:10 AM, Oct 20, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — Rain and snow are making this month one of the wettest Octobers on record, with precipitation above average for this time of year.

However, experts say we will need a lot more heading into the fall and winter months to make up for the past few water years.

95% of the water Utah uses comes from snow. Professor of Atmospheric Science at the U of U Jim Steenburgh says the precipitation we’re experiencing is welcomed and needed.

Our new water year which began this month is off to a good start, but Jim says it’s too soon to get overly excited.

“This is unusual for us to get started this early with this many storms and to ski this early. In the 21st century we haven’t had this much snow on the ground on Oct 18th, period until now. Our reservoir storage is very low right now, so we really need it to be a big winter,” said Jim Steenburgh.

While local hydrologists are also seeing better soil moisture conditions this year, which helps lead to a good runoff, the benefit will be lost if we don’t get a good snowpack.

Jordan Clayton, a Snow Survey Specialist with the USDA says we need a lot more precipitation to correct the deficit recent weak water years have left us with.

It’s a pretty exceptional drought we’re experiencing this year and we have not received enough precipitation to get us out of that yet. We’ll take the precipitation, but we need to continue to conserve,” said Jordan Clayton.

Our snowpack typically peaks around April, and then we’ll have our most reliable correlation between our snowpack and how good our melt off will be.