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Utah's drought
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Recent storms help Utah’s snow pack, but hydrologists say we’re still far behind where it should be

A mix of a shallow snowpack and dry hillsides can be seen in Emigration Canyon 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 COUNTY – After a record amount of snowfall on Wednesday, did yesterday’s storms really bring Utah anywhere closer to a normal snowpack level?  Some hydrologists say the storms did make somewhat of a dent in our drought situation, but we’re way lower than where we should be. 

Hydrologists estimate the state is seeing roughly 80 percent of normal snowpack, and that’s the statewide average.

Utah Snow Survey Supervisor Jordan Clayton says, “There are other portions of the state that have not fared as well, like the eastern Uintahs and the southwest corner of the state.”

So, how much more snow do we need?  Clayton says ten inches of powder roughly equates to one inch of water.  That means we would need to get roughly five more feet of snow.

“We have around six inches [of water] to go with where we are on the statewide snow water equivalent from where we would like to be to call it an average winter,” Clayton says.

To put things in perspective, Clayton said Wednesday’s storm dropped two inches of water across northern Utah.

“We would need to see the equivalent of these to get to average by the beginning of April, which is kind of a long shot,” Clayton said.  “Were not looking at a drought-buster situation, yet.  We still have below-average snowpack and we’re anticipating ending the snow year remaining in that below-average snowpack conditions.”