Snowpack looks promising, so far

Snowpack looks promising, so far

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John Hollenhorst reportingThe recent storms have ended several weeks of worry over poor snow conditions. But does it mean we can stop worrying about the drought?

The short answer is, a good bit of snow can't make all the worries go away. We've certainly had enough to put smiles on the faces of skiers and water managers, but they'd all agree: More is better.

The recent snow is a welcome turnaround. Northern Utah snowpack percentages are heading from bad to near normal. In Southern Utah it's more like from disaster to delight.

Randy Julander, with the NRCS Snow Survey, said, "Southern Utah went from essentially no snowpack, down in the single digits and teens, up to 120 percent, 150 percent of average. So it's been a phenomenal pattern for us."

Outdoor recreation fanatics have noticed the turnaround, too.

Cros country skier Dru Whitlock says, "It was a little dry in November, but the last few weeks we've gotten quite a bit of snow, and it's in good shape."

Avalanche expert Brett Kobernik skied the back-country. He says the snow stabilized and became safer since Friday. "But the winds are definitely transporting snow and keeping the danger up somewhat," he said.

Still, skiers and snowboarders say the snow is nothing like the olden days in the 1980's and 90's. They want more. "Absolutely, yeah, bring it on," Whitlock said.

Snowboarder Dilan Snow says the snow is "Good for turning. A little rocky, but they need a little more."

The forecast does look promising over the next few days. But even if it does deliver lots of snow, it will not be an instant fix for a long-term drought that's dried up soils, vegetation and water supplies.

"One or two good years doesn't make up for seven or eight bad ones," Julander said.

Forecasts are fickle anyway. Southern Utah is well above normal now, in spite of an earlier forecast for a dry winter. We must also point out how early it is, though. We're only about a quarter of the way into the snow season. That means there are lots more chances for nature to delight us, aggravate us and surprise us.

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