Find a list of your saved stories here

Thunderstorms doing little for Utah’s woeful spring runoff

3 photos
Save Story

Save stories to read later

Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY — As the soaking rains arrived Monday, it was easy to forget just how little spring runoff is coming from Utah's mountain snowpack.

Big and Little Cottonwood creeks should be raging, but they're not; and water experts say afternoon storms are the best-case scenario right now.

"It's something that we hope for — but, really, it's too little too late," said Brian McInerney, hydrologist with the National Weather Service. "This really didn't help us at all.”

At this stage in the snowmelt, McInerney said a storm like the one that hit the Wasatch Front Monday will only help stream flows 1 percent or so.

“When you really see it, it's kind of depressing,” he said. "We're not really seeing much of a bump at all on the low-elevation watersheds.”

Normally, a person should not be able to stand in City Creek at this time of year. But on Monday it was flowing at 3 cubic feet per second (CFS); in a typical year, it would be at 50 CFS.

Red Butte, Emigration and Parleys creeks will only deliver around 12 percent of normal runoff, McInerney said, and Big and Little Cottonwood creeks are projected to have less than 50 percent of normal runoff from April 1 until the end of July.

"That's just due to the low snowpack,” the hydrologist said.

As for this springlike wet weather, McInerney said we should be getting even more of it.

“It should be like this frequently, but we are not seeing that at all," he said.

The good news: If your lawn got a good soaking Monday, you can keep your sprinklers off a few more days. That will keep more water in our reservoirs.


Related stories

Most recent Utah stories

Related topics

Jed Boal


    Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
    By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

    KSL Weather Forecast