Utah might be approaching summer, but the snowpack has actually grown on average statewide.
The increase in snowpack at high elevations pushed the statewide average up by 1.5 inches, according to the Utah Water Supply Outlook Report released by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) on June 4.
All watersheds across the state have received higher than average precipitation since October 1.
This has led to a high level of saturation in the soil, “which will cause any additional snowmelt or precipitation to be very efficiently routed downstream from headwaters to valley locations,” the report said.
The organization’s May report predicted that many small to medium-sized reservoirs would fill to capacity, and that the state’s largest reservoirs would likely “gain a significant amount of water.”
Those predictions were right.
The state’s “small to medium-size reservoirs are at or near capacity,” the June report said, and “larger reservoirs have gained substantial amounts of runoff.”
Pineview Reservoir is currently at 101% of its capacity and 13% higher than average. Willard Bay is at 102% capacity and 34% higher than average.
Bear Lake is at 76% capacity and 39% higher than average, compared to 82% of capacity last year and 55% capacity on average.
The organization’s final 2019 water supply forecasts are usually released at the beginning of May each year, but the NRCS released a supplemental June report to “highlight the persistent, anomalously high snowpack levels in several basins” and “publish current reservoir levels for the state.”
“From a basin perspective, several watersheds are near or above the 90th percentile for (snowpack size over the past 30 years) and still have a significant amount of snow,” the report said.
Most of these areas are in central or southern Utah.
The Upper Sevier basin, for example, has a snowpack that is 4.7 times larger than usual for this time of year.
Most other basins “have sufficiently low remaining (snowpack), so flooding should be a minimal concern,” the report said.