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Parts of Utah could be removed from drought status in light of heavy precipitation

Author: Jared Gereau

“Parts of Utah Could Be Removed from Drought Status in Light of Heavy Precipitation.” UPR Utah Public Radio, 4 Jan. 2023,

2 additions to document , most recent about 1 year ago

When Why
Mar-02-23 U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook
Mar-02-23 Drought update from (2/21/23)

Infographic of drought conditions around the country

For months, Utah has been in a heavy drought, but the high amount of snowfall and rainstorms lately could prove to change that status for certain parts of the state.

The latest seasonal drought outlook from the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center reveals that a few small portions of the state could be completely removed from drought status. Due to heavy precipitation over the past few weeks, areas like St. George, Cedar City, and Moab could be removed.

However, while those areas are expected to be removed from their drought status, the large majority of the state will remain in their current conditions. Fortunately, all this precipitation is showing a vast improvement from what Utah was experiencing just months ago and shows that things are moving in the right direction.

The new drought monitor is expected to be released on Thursday with the latest monitor map having been released on December 27, showing a little over 31% of the state being in extreme drought. A year prior, 70% of the state was in extreme drought.

DMU Timestamp: February 21, 2023 13:31

Added March 02, 2023 at 9:26pm by Christopher Sloan
Title: U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook

U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook map through May 31, 2023

DMU Timestamp: February 21, 2023 13:31

Added March 02, 2023 at 9:35pm by Christopher Sloan
Title: Drought update from (2/21/23)

  • According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service in their latest report, Utah is now guaranteed to have an above-normal snowpack! From now until the onset of snowmelt, every additional inch of snow will push the state farther above normal. The only years that have had more snow at the beginning of February since the SNOTEL network was installed were 1984 and 1997.
  • January precipitation in Utah was well above normal at 196%, making it one of the best winters in the past 20 years! 2017 and 2005 were slightly better than 2023.
  • Great Salt Lake has risen a foot and a half since its historic low two set in early November 2022. This is due to direct precipitation and inflows to the lake. For context, the lake rose just over a foot all of last year. We are off to a good start as we look toward spring runoff!
  • On Feb. 3, Gov. Cox issued an executive order to raise the Great Salt Lake causeway berm from 4,187 feet to 4,192 feet. The purpose of raising the earth fill berm is to take advantage of the above normal snowpack this year and capture as much water from the spring runoff as possible. Raising the berm helps prevent hyper saline water in the north arm of the lake from flowing into the less salty south arm. This temporary measure will have impacts to the lake level of the north arm. However, the north arm does not support the same ecosystem and is already at or near saturation of salinity. The north arm has a thicker mineral crust that is not as prone to erosion. It is very likely that the berm management plan, which is part of the governor’s executive order, will include periodic strategic releases of water to the north arm when conditions support the release.
  • Twenty-four of the 47 reservoirs the division monitors are below 55%, which is about the same as last year but still about 10% lower than normal for this time of year.
  • Of the 63 measured streams, 24 are currently flowing below normal. The number of streams measured has decreased due to ice on the stream gauges.

DMU Timestamp: February 21, 2023 13:31

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