Dry northern Utah smothered with winter storms

aSALT LAKE CITY — The unsustainable dry spell in Utah was lifted by preceding eight days of turbulence, supplying a hay for the mountains with the much needed water.

Tage Flint, manager of the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District said, “That storm we had last week was as big as we have seen in a decade.”

“We are happy about that.”

In the Feb. 8 storminess, the Weber Basin drainage area was deskbound at 70 percent of average for its snowpack. It is now soaring near to average.

“We were in dire straits,” said Brian McInerney, hydrologist, National Weather Service. “We were looking at numbers that would put us at well below 50 percent of runoff.”

The nation’s second driest state saw a reduced irrigation season last year among compulsory diminutions to water deliveries throughout major portions of Utah.

As an example the Bear River drainage area, is now at 105 percent of average, and selected up 23 percent of its seasonal gathering in the past eight days of storminess.

“That’s how intense this storm was,” McInerney said.

The storm heightened the Salt Lake area to 81 percent of average and the Utah Lake drainage to 83 percent of average.

And for the Lake Powell drainage system, it sums to 109 percent.

McInerney said the storms over this season are doing really well.

McInerney warned that the next six weeks will be the deciding factor for the approach of the storm for the rest of the year.

“If we start melting in March, we will easily get down to 50 percent of our snowpack. We need it to stay cold and stormy.”

“We need to get 120 percent of average to fill the reservoirs in the northern part of the state,” McInerney said. “We have a ways to go, but it is looking better.”

The most recent forecast by the National Water and Climate Center forecasts a restricted water supply in many areas west of the Continental Divide.

The year’s second forecast was issued on Friday by the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service. It suggested that California, Nevada and Oregon are particularly firm hit by the short water year.