Utah's 2018 snowpack and runoff forecast looks somber

Wednesday , February 07, 2018 - 5:15 PM

Utah’s winter remains on track to be one of the worst in state history.

Snowpacks measured by the Utah Snow Survey on Feb. 1 found below-average conditions throughout Utah. A couple of January storms helped improve the outlook for Southern Utah, but not by much — the region is now set to fall within the five worst snow years on record.

Things are slightly better in Northern Utah, but snowpacks still sit far below the 30-year average. The Weber-Ogden Basin’s snow water equivalent is at 58 percent of normal and the Bear River Basin is at 78 percent of normal.

“With already melted-out low elevation snowpack in many areas and ripe snowpack at mid-elevation sites, water managers should anticipate inefficient runoff and reduced and stream flow conditions,” according to the Utah Snow Survey’s Feb. 1 Water Outlook Report. 

The report also warns water managers to prepare for record-low streamflows through much of Southern Utah and parts of Northern Utah. 

Statewide, Utah’s snow is at 57 percent of normal, compared to 168 percent last year. Last winter’s epic snowfall will likely help water managers ride through an unusually dry 2018. Water storage sits at 73 percent of capacity.

“Be grateful for the reservoir carryover,” said Troy Brosten, a hydrologist with the snow survey, in an email.

The outlook for the rest of the winter remains dim. With no storms in the immediate forecast, the Bear River Basin and north slope of the Uinta Mountains now have a one-in-five chance of reaching an average snowpack this season. The rest of Utah’s basins have a one-in-10 chance of having a normal snow year. 

The Utah Snow Survey Program is managed by the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service. More information about current, historical and forecasted snow conditions is available online

Contact Reporter Leia Larsen at 801-625-4289 or llarsen@standard.net. Follow her on Facebook.com/LeiaInTheField or on Twitter @LeiaLarsen

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