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Water experts optimistic about Utah's snowpack after storm

(Sloan Schrage/KSL-TV)



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SALT LAKE CITY — Water experts are optimistic about Utah's future after this week's snowstorm.

Brian McInerney, a hydrologist for the National Weather Service, said the strong El Nino pattern in the Pacific has opened the door for winter storms to target Utah.

"This storm we just had was a direct hit, which is exactly what we needed and we need a lot more," McInerney said.

Granted, Monday's storm created messes in our neighborhoods. It brought down trees and caused numerous traffic accidents, but the storm covered the entire state and significantly added to our snowpack. Before the storm, the snowpack in the north was about 50 percent of normal. Now, it's close to 70, and more is on the way.

"You see what we increased, it was about a 20 percent gain in one storm. And with the forecast that's coming up and it works out right, we anticipate that we could be up to normal conditions by Christmastime," McInerney said.

Weekend forecast
Sunny conditions and high temperatures in the 40s were forecasted for this weekend, with additional snow showers possible Monday and Tuesday, according to KSL meteorologist Grant Weyman. Get the forecast on the KSL Weather Page.

We've had early season storms in the past several years, but they were followed by long periods of high pressure systems that blocked other systems from coming in.

"We need an active pattern. What we dread is the blocking high-pressure coming back and setting up shop, like we've seen for the past 4 years. We really don't want to see that," McInerney said.

Water experts say the perfect scenario would be to have high elevation storms come through about every week or so through April. That's asking a lot from Mother Nature, sure, but Utah certainly has gotten off to a good start.

"If we can have snowpack, even normal conditions for this year, that would be wonderful. Above normal would just be a bonus," McInerney said.

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Keith McCord

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