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Snow levels are quite bad, reservoir levels are quite good

SALT LAKE CITY – This weekend was a crucial time for water watchers, since this is the time snow levels are usually the highest before the spring run-off.  The snow levels are quite bad this year, but, the reservoir levels aren’t.

A good beginning to 2018 does not make up for a bad ending of 2017, water wise.  Natural Resources Conservation Services Hydrologist Troy Brosten says we were always “playing catch-up” when it comes to snow pack levels.

“The month of March was actually pretty good.  It was above average precipitation in many of the basins, but, because we were so far behind, it only improved our basins from the 50 percent range to the 60 percent range,” Brosten says.

The NRCS is gathering data to pass along to the National Weather Service, which will likely provide a forecast regarding Utah’s water picture later this week.  Brosten says higher elevations are much lower than normal, and levels below 7,000 feet are practically non-existent.

“Our low elevation sites are very ripe, nearly melted out or melted out,” according to Brosten.

The Bear River Basin seems to be in better shape than most places in Utah.  Brosten says it’s at roughly 80 percent of normal thanks to storms that impacted mostly Idaho and Wyoming.  If there’s a part of the state that’s in the worst shape, National Weather Service Hydrologist Brian McInerney says it’s the Virgin River Basin.

“They have small amounts of storage, down there, and they have the smallest snow pack compared to average.  They have the least expected runoff compared to percent of average,” McInerney says.

However, McInerney says most of the reservoirs are sitting at nearly 80 percent of normal water levels because of the snow that fell a year ago.

(Photo Credit: Mike DeBernardo, Deseret News, file, East Canyon Reservoir)