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Utah begins new water year with most of the state in severe drought

Posted at 3:20 PM, Oct 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-02 18:20:23-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The State of Utah began its water year on Thursday, and a pair of graphics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln shows a marked difference in the level of drought when compared with the start of the 2019 water year.

According to the Utah Department of Natural Resources, the state is beginning its current year with 93 percent of the state in drought conditions labeled as "severe" or greater. 87 percent of the state is in "extreme" drought conditions, a Facebook post from Utah DNR said.

No part of Utah was labeled severe or extreme at the start of last year's water year, but some areas—mostly in the eastern side of the state—were considered "abnormally dry" and other areas in southern and southeastern Utah were in moderate drought.

According to the Utah Division of Water Resources, drought is a normal and recurring climate feature and there is no universal way to define it.

"In general, drought is a result of a deficiency of precipitation over an extended period of time, resulting in a water shortage, which impacts normal water usage," Utah DWR's drought web page says. "

The impacts of drought are not always immediate, but they're among the most financially burdensome of weather-related disasters, according to Utah DWR.

"Failed crops can impact food prices well into the future. Devastated domestic livestock and wildlife herds can also take many years to recover," the web page says.

The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest is extending its Stage 1 fire restrictions until Oct. 15 due to the dry conditions.