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Storm brings relief, but still not enough to help Utah drought

Posted at 5:39 PM, Apr 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-05 19:54:14-04

SALT LAKE CITY — With some winter weather still sticking around, Utah’s snowpack is seeing some relief from those warm temperatures, but it doesn’t do much to help the state's drought situation.

WATCH: Spring outlook shows hot temps, worsening drought conditions

It will take until Wednesday to really understand the impact of this week's storm and while any precipitation helps, it isn’t going to make much of a difference in the drought.

“Getting this little bit of extra cold temperatures, a little bit of more moisture up in the mountains definitely helps.” Jordan Clayton with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. “But no, this is not going to get us out of the drought or move the needle significantly from a statewide perspective."

Clayton said over the last two-and-a-half years, Utah has accumulated a deficit of about 13-14 inches in precipitation.

So the big question is what would help?

“It really depends on the scale of optimism that you want to have.” Clayton said. "If we're looking at two really monster snowpack years like we had in 1983 and 1984. That would get us there.”

“Cooler temperatures certainly help.” Glen Merrill, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service. “But what we're really looking forward to this point is widespread and heavy precipitation this time of year.”

This all adds up to what could be another tough summer for water across the state.

“The three-month outlook from April through June, tables are tipped for above-normal temperatures and tipped for below-normal precipitation.” Merrill added. “So not what we're looking for.”

The only bit of good news is that while this year looks similar to last year, there is higher soil moisture which will make runoff much more efficient.

“Our deficit has grown so large at this point that we're going to need multiple years of above-average conditions, precipitation snowpack, wise and efficiency of the runoff to store in the reservoirs to pull out of this drought,” said Merrill.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service snow survey headed up by Clayton is close to being released with their water outlook for April through July, so Utah residents will know shortly what they will face this summer.