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Wintry blast headed for Utah


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SALT LAKE CITY — Enjoy the warm weather while you can. High winds then a snow storm are on the way.

For today, the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City predicts temperatures 10 to 20 degrees higher than what is typical for this time of year, with the Wasatch Front expected to surpass the 70-degree mark.

On Thursday, motorists in high-profile vehicles traveling on east-west routes, such as U.S. 6 or I-80, may face wind gusts of up to 60 mph. Those winds will usher in a snow storm that will begin Friday and last well into the weekend.

The mountains in the northern end of the state are expected to get anywhere from 1 foot to 3 feet of snow, while mountains at the southern end could get up to 2 feet of snow through Sunday. Valley accumulation of snow will also be widespread.

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The anticipated blast of winter weather will be welcome for water supply managers throughout the state. A new report issued Tuesday indicates soil moisture is below average in northern and southeastern Utah and near average in southwestern Utah as of Nov. 1.

October precipitation, according to the report, was near normal for the Bear and Weber basins — about 100 percent. In contrast, it is below average, in the 60 percent to 85 percent range, in the rest of the state.

The report notes reservoir storage at low levels — 58 percent of capacity compared with 85 percent at last year — across the state. While the stream flow is at average levels in southwestern Utah, it is below to "well below" average for most of the remainder of Utah.

Statewide reservoir storage
2010 - 58% of capacity
2011 - 85% of capacity

"Given overall poor stream flow and dry soil moisture conditions, the preliminary water supply outlook for water year 2013 is a bit below average conditions," the report said. "Above average snowpacks would be welcome this year to offset the dryer conditions."

Contributing: Alex Cabrero

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