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Utah water supply remains in dire straits in spite of recent snow

Emigration Creek flows in Rotary Glen Park in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. With a shallow snowpack, water runoff is expected to be less than normal this year. Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A Utah water supply briefing threw icy cold water on any hope that recent snowfall may have helped bolster snowpack. Therefore water supply in the state is low. 

The National Resources Conservation Service, a branch of the US Department of Agriculture, monitors snowpack totals that correlate to the water supply. Officials with NRCS reported the state expects a ten percent chance to see enough remaining snow this season to fill reservoirs next spring and recoup lost water supply.

Even if storms deliver more snow, the NRCS says Utah would be at just 75 to 80 percent of “normal” for our snow water equivalent.

Currently, only one area tracked by NRCS in Utah holds more than 80 percent of “normal” snow water equivalent: the Raft River region, at 81 percent. However, the rest of the state’s snowpack ranges from 52% of normal in the Beaver River region to 74%, in the Escalante region. 

The NRCS identifies snowpack as an important source of water for much of the mountain west. A number of factors, including air temperature and precipitation, can affect how much snowpack becomes snowmelt, eventually contributing to the Utah water supply. 

According to the National Weather Service, 70 percent of Utah remains in an ‘exceptional drought’ category. 90 percent is considered in ‘extreme drought.’ 

You can check current snow water equivalent measurements here