Low water supply near record-breaking lows, experts say

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SALT LAKE CITY -- It's a perfect storm for one of the driest years to date. An unusually warm winter mixed with little snow has weather experts worried about water levels for the rest of the year.

“I have never seen a year this bad,” said Randy Julander, a snow survey supervisor for the state.

Water experts from across the state gathered Monday at the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City to talk about Utah's runoff, or the lack thereof.

“The forecast is really grim, it really is. We have low snow, we have very low water supply, forecast near record levels and in some case record-breaking forecasts that we haven't seen since 1934,” said Brian McInerney, NWS Hydrologist.

Hydrologists explain sites they measure, which would normally still have snow, are completely bare.

“We have about 35 sites that are at record lows and another 15-20 that are in second place,” Julander said.

According to the NWS the lack of snow pack this year marks one of the worst on record for Utah's water supply. January, February and March hit record breaking temperatures in Utah and precipitation last month was less than half of normal.

But there is one bright spot.

“In terms of reservoir storage we're about the same as we were last year. Some are a little ahead, some are a little behind. That is the only positive thing that came out of this meeting right here,” Julander said.

Still, several reservoirs are not expected to reach 100 percent this year. But they will be above last year’s levels thanks to late summer storms last year.

Water watchers are hoping to see those storms again this year.

“If we don't get that monsoonal surge this summer, we're going to be in a lot worse shape come 2016 and that's what we worry about right now,” McInerney said.

The NWS says water restrictions will be put in place this summer, like no watering during peak hours of the day and absolutely no over watering.

1 Comment

  • bob

    “Near record”, but not the driest. And only a couple of years after the WETTEST on record.

    The weather is doing what it’s always done. But we keep adding more HUMANS to a desert landscape that cannot support them unless we have unusually wet years.

    That strikes me as foolish, but what do I know?

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