Apr 9, 2024 - News

A snowy 2024 winter brings drought relief to Utah

A chart shows snowpack averages across Utah over time.

Utah's average snowpack over time. The black line show's this year's depth; green is median since 1991, blue shows the maximum depth and red shows the minimum. Chart via USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

With above-normal snow for the second winter in a row, Utah is taking another step toward drought recovery.

By the numbers: The snowpack was at least 30% above the 30-year median in most of the state as of the beginning of this week, according to data from the Utah Department of Natural Resources.

  • Utah's statewide "snow-water equivalent" — the depth of the water that melted snow would produce — hit 18.8 inches last week, above the median peak of 16. Last year's peaked at 30 inches, demolishing previous records.

Reality check: The state's reservoirs remain only 46% full — well below the April median of 58% since 2011.

  • That means our water supply is still rebuilding after years of drought.

What's next: The snow has to go somewhere when it melts, and spring brings heightened flooding risks each year.

  • Although temperatures are expected to reach the upper 70s in Salt Lake by the end of the week, they're forecast to drop again — a good start for a gradual thaw at lower elevations.
  • If snow melts in the foothills before the big runoff from the mountaintops, flood risks become more manageable.

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