OGDEN — A lot of snow fell this winter, a lot more than last year, a lot more than average.
Ben Lomond Peak, for instance, had received 27 percent more snow than the median as of April 1, trailing the 2017 and 2011 figures but far exceeding last year’s underwhelming snowfall.
Statewide, this year’s snowpack almost matched the figures for 2005 and 2011, which experienced the largest figures in recent years, according to the National Resource Conservation Service.
But that precipitation won’t necessarily translate into Weber County rivers and reservoirs overflowing their banks as the white stuff really begins to melt from area mountaintops and fill area waterways. Barring an unexpected inundation of snow or rain, Weber County Emergency Management Director Lance Peterson doesn’t foresee flooding of the Weber and Ogden rivers.
“I’m not expecting any big problem unless we get that big storm,” he said.
Though the snow at lower elevations has largely disappeared, the accumulation at higher altitudes around here and in areas further east that feed the rivers and streams that wind through Weber County typically doesn’t begin to melt in earnest until early April, give or take. Ben Lomond Peak may not completely lose its snow covering until May, later even, according to data from the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center, or CBRFC, which is part of the National Weather Service.
Thus, officials like Peterson continue to keep thinking about snow even as spring asserts itself, aiming to be ready for snowmelt that only now starts flowing down mountains to lower altitudes and into the Weber and Ogden rivers. They need to know if they ought to start filling sandbags or otherwise taking measures to prepare for the specter of overflowing riverbanks.
“Right now’s the critical time,” Peterson said.
Back in 2011, flooding along the Weber River brought on by repeated storms wreaked havoc in Weber County, flooding homes and more. In 2017, warm weather in February that year caused an early melt that swelled the Ogden River to an unusually high level.
This go-round, Peterson is comfortable things won’t get out of hand, despite the above-average snowfall. “We’re not too worried about the rivers,” he said. Similarly, the Pineview Reservoir and other water reservoirs should be able to handle the expected snowmelt.
It’s only if there’s a huge, extraordinary series of storms that he might start wringing his hands. “The thing that we can’t control is Mother Nature,” he said.
Peterson provided CBRFC data to the mayors leading Weber County’s cities and other officials at a recent gathering of the Weber Area Council of Governments.
Ben Lomond trail, according to the figures, had received 41 percent more snowfall as of April 1 than the median for the area.