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Three Utah rivers show real-time impact of drought

Posted at 6:11 PM, May 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-25 20:43:34-04

Utah's waterways should be at their peak right now, but a FOX 13 examination of United States Geological Survey streamflow data for three rivers in different parts of the state show the spring runoff looks more like a summer lull.

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The USGS monitorning stations provide real-time data confirming the impact of exceptional and extreme drought throughout Utah.

We made the charts below to provide a snapshot -- taking a reading of cubic feet per second flowing during the same time each year for the last 20 years.

The size of each blue dot and its position on the graph show how much was flowing through the river.

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Our first chart shows the Green River flows at the town of Green River in the Southeast corner of Emery County. The Green is the biggest tributary to the Colorado, the two joining forces to create some of the natural wonders of the Southwest.

For the Green River, the highest runoff volume was measured in 2005, with 26,500 cubic feet flowing each second. The lowest point is this year.

The Provo River tells the same story, though an earlier peak year means the black line tracing the streamflow trend is pointed down from close to the start. Once again, you see the lowest streamflow this year.

The Virgin River is seeing an even more disturbing year, though its trend line looks the same.

The USGS also provides the ability to make a chart shadowed by a line representing the median streamflow. It helps put each year in context.

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However, the USGS chart below shows that median dotted line breaking off and hovering far above the actual flow for this year.