Utah’s snowpack is faring slightly better than it was about the same time last year, but the state needs to accumulate more snowpack this winter due to dry conditions over the summer.
Statewide, the snow water equivalent (SWE), a measure of snowpack, is 29% higher than normal, according to the Jan. 1 Utah Water Supply Outlook Report released Wednesday by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
This water year, which started Oct. 1, “precipitation levels started off slowly ... but have improved substantially,” the report says.
While the snowpack is 29% higher than normal, it’s about 40% higher than last year at the same time.
“This is quite impressive when you consider how well our snowpack turned out by the end of last winter, but keep in mind that much of last year’s snowpack came in February and March — keep your fingers crossed for a repeat performance,” the report reads.
Soil moisture levels are low, however, due to an “extremely dry summer” and the lower levels of precipitation at the beginning of the water year. Because of this, “we will need an above-average snowpack this winter to produce fairly average runoff conditions,” the report says.
Southern Utah’s water basins are doing the best of regions across the state, with Southwestern Utah’s snowpack at 129% above normal, the highest of all the water basins.
Especially compared to regions in Southern Utah, the size of Bear River Basin’s snowpack is on the lower end of the water basins across the state, with a snowpack in the region that is 6% higher than normal.
However, the snowpack for Bear River Basin is still in better shape than last year, when it was 13% below normal.
The precipitation level in Bear River Basin is not faring quite as well as the snowpack. Precipitation in the region in December was 17% below normal, with a seasonal accumulation of precipitation since Oct. 1, coming in at 20% lower than normal.
The region’s reservoir storage is at 70% of capacity, better than last year at the same time, when it was at 61% capacity.
Weber and Ogden River Basins have a snowpack that is 11% higher than normal, compared to 7% below normal last year.
The region received an average amount of precipitation in December, though the seasonal accumulation of precipitation since Oct. 1 is 18% below normal.
Reservoir storage in the region is at 77% of capacity, much better shape than last year, when it was at 49% of capacity.