Utah Snowpack Improving, but State Still in Severe Drought

Recent snowstorms have improved the snowpack outlook for this water year. As of late December, all measured regions had at least 76% of snow water equivalent (SWE) as a percentage of normal (see diagram). And as of this writing, there is more snow in the forecast.

HOWEVER, water experts stress that the entire state still suffers a severe water deficit from the prolonged, extreme multi-year drought that has plagued the entire western U.S. To quote a December 24 article by Pamela Mason for the Park Record:

Glen Merrill, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City, said the water deficit has been building significantly during the past two years. The drought started coming back after the spring of 2019 and in 2020, it hit hard and lingered, he said.

“We’ve got a really large deficit to overcome,” Merrill said. “We’re probably going to need more than one year of above normal snowpack and snowmelt runoff to get out of the drought. This isn’t something that’s just going to go away after a few storms or even a normal year. We’ve got a long way to go.”