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National Weather Service: the majority of Utah is in a drought

FILE - In this July 16, 2014 file photo, what was once a marina sits high and dry due to Lake Mead receding in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona. Arizona won't have all the pieces of a Colorado River drought plan wrapped up by a March 4 deadline set by the federal government, state water officials said Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. It's the latest hurdle threatening the seven-state plan to take less water from the drought-starved Colorado River, which provides water for 40 million people and 5.5 million acres of farmland. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — We had a great winter.  Lots of snow to fill Utah’s reservoirs.  But, it’s our typical monsoon season which keeps the state hydrated.

Glen Merrill, National Weather Service forecaster in Salt Lake City, said “it’s more like a ‘non-soon.’  No rain last year or this summer.”

That, along with extremely high temperatures for much of July, pushed more than 95% of Utah into D1 — or moderate drought conditions, including the Wasatch Front.

According to monthly climate data, drought conditions cover 99% of the state. 

And the extreme southern portion of Utah is in D3– extreme drought.  Only the northernmost part of the Beehive State, near the Idaho border, is sufficiently hydrated.

“We need to cross our fingers Utah has a big winter this year and better monsoon season next [year],” Merrill said. 

The reservoirs in Northern Utah are almost 80% full right now, but Merrill said that doesn’t mean we should use the water as we normally do.

He recommends people go to ‘Slow the Flow‘ website to find out the best water usage — both when it’s dry and when we have rain.  

“The website can tell people to wait a week to water their lawns if we received rain recently. Or how often to water if it’s dry and hot,” Merrill explained.

“We need to remember, we are in a desert state” continued Merrill “and it’s typical to have periods of good moisture and then be very dry.” 

But, Merrill adds, over the last decade, the drought periods have become longer and hotter, and the wet periods shorter.