Utah breaks all-time snow record
This week's winter storm broke Utah's all-time snowpack record on Tuesday — probably.
Between the lines: New measurement systems make it a little hard to compare this winter to one in 1952.
Driving the news: Utah's statewide "snow-water equivalent" — the depth of the water that melted snow would produce — averaged 29.4 inches as of Tuesday morning, surpassing a previous record of 28.8, set in 1952.
Yes, but: The 1952 record was set when measurements were taken once a month, from fewer locations, said Jordan Clayton, snow supervisor for the USDA in Utah.
- That means the snowpack in 1952 could have been higher if it peaked between measurements.
By the numbers: Of the 61 measurement stations used in 1952, 47 are still in use today, Clayton told Axios.
- Their average was exactly 29 inches as of Tuesday morning with snow still falling — so the closest comparable calculation also shows a new record.
Another view: This winter's accumulated snowfall — which is different from the snowpack water equivalent — reached 78.5 inches on Tuesday at Salt Lake's airport, according to the National Weather Service.
- Though well above normal, that's still less than 1952's 117.3 inches.
Zoom out: The snowpack measurements, by contrast, reflect statewide conditions — and southern Utah's mountains are heavily blanketed, with temperatures well below normal and snow still falling, Clayton noted.
- This year has brought record snow accumulation to the mountains near Moab, with near-record snowfall near Bryce Canyon and Lake Powell.
- Record snow accumulation also is reported in Grantsville and sites in Cache and Rich counties, with near-record snow in Weber and southern Utah counties.
Why it matters: With 95% of Utah's water supply coming from melted snow, this winter is going a long way to replenishing reservoirs and the imperiled Great Salt Lake.
- The state's reservoirs were 32.4% full as of Tuesday — well below the median of 58% thanks to multiple years of drought and growing water use.
- The Great Salt Lake remains about 6 feet below normal, per federal data.
Catch up quick: Last month, the snowpack broke the record under the current measurement system — 26 inches in 1983.
- Multiple ski resorts have shattered accumulation records, with Snowbird joining them on Tuesday when it tallied 785 inches for the season.
What we're watching: Spring thaw will likely bring flooding, state officials have warned, and it's expected to warm up quickly after today.
- Mountain temperatures are projected to reach the 50s early next week.
- Gov. Spencer Cox on Monday declared April to be "Flood Safety Awareness Month."
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