WEBER COUNTY — If you thought Ben Lomond Peak looked snowier than usual this past winter, you weren’t imagining things.
The end of September was also the end of the 2019 water year, so final tallies are in for the amount of precipitation received across the state.
Out of 133 snow telemetry (SNOTEL) sites maintained by the Utah Snow Survey, the site at Ben Lomond Peak received the most overall precipitation at 76.4 inches over the course of the water year, according to Jordan Clayton, supervisor of the Utah Snow Survey.
In March alone, the Ben Lomond site gained 11 inches in snow water equivalent (a measure of the snowpack), according to the Utah Water Supply Outlook Report from April 1. The Farmington site gained 10 inches that same month.
Across the state, the average amount of precipitation received during the water year was 39.4 inches, which is 22% higher than usual, Clayton said in an email.
“Last winter’s snowpack was fantastic,” Clayton said. “As of April 1st, the date of the typical peak snowpack, snowpack in Utah was above normal at 140% compared to 64% the previous year.”
That means the snowpack was more than double what it was last year.
While snowpack was high for the water year, soil moisture levels were about normal or slightly above normal by the end of the water year in northern and central Utah — and drier than normal in the southern half of the state, Clayton said.
Though almost all of Utah moved out of drought status by the end of May 2019, several basins in Southeastern Utah have recently been classified level D1 in drought status, Clayton said.
This means the areas are in a moderate drought “where damage to crops and pastures can be expected and where fire risk is high, while stream, reservoir or well levels are low,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website.
This reclassification is based on precipitation in the areas in the last 120 days as well as evaporation and soil moisture levels, Clayton said.
While Northern Utah has exited the drought, it’s still feeling the effects, including trees in Ogden Canyon that have become diseased as the result of stress and dehydration, according to recent reporting from the Standard-Examiner.