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Most Reservoirs Should Fill This Year

Most Reservoirs Should Fill This Year

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Jed Boal Reporting"They should all fill, and we should do quite well with streamflow and run-off this year."

After six straight springs that were dismally dry, most Utah reservoirs will fill this year, putting our water supply in good shape. This latest wallop of winter weather gave us another dose of what we need in the mountains and virtually guaranteed a phenomenal rebound from the persistent drought.

Winter is not over in the mountains. The snow is still piling up so avalanche danger is back, but our water reserves are finally headed in the right direction.

It sure does not look like Easter in the Wasatch Range. Skiers and snowboarders revel in the best conditions of the season. In the backcountry avalanche danger could remain high for several days.

Evelyn Lees, Utah Avalanche Center: "We've had one to two feet of new snow overnight and very strong southerly winds. That's combined to make a lot of sensitive wind drifts out there."

Especially on northerly facing steep slopes. Snow has already slid on some of those slopes.

Evelyn Lees: "Avalanches are averaging one to three feet deep, and one hundred to over four hundred feet wide. So, those are big slabs that a person does not want to be involved in."

Last March our snowpack disappeared. But hydrologist Brian McInerney of the National Weather Service says the storms this week should recharge most key reservoirs.

Brian McInerney: "We're expecting to fill right now moderate to small reservoirs in the Wasatch Front and the northern mountains."

In fact, most should fill statewide with the exception of larger lakes and reservoirs like Bear Lake, Utah Lake, Lake Powell, Strawberry Reservoir. They'll need a few more good years.

If this spring is cool and wet followed by a quick warm-up in May we'll get more water out of the snowpack than a gradual melt.

Brian McInerney: "The cool, wet scenario is actually pretty good for the Wasatch Front. We need a little more water in that snowpack. We could use a more efficient run-off."

It's a remarkable turn-around for our storage capacity; collectively the state's reservoirs were 30-percent of capacity. Again, it will take a few years to refill the big bodies of water.

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