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SALT LAKE CITY — St. George’s stretch without measurable precipitation entered its 154th day Monday; however, a slow-moving storm that’s forecast to bring rain and snow throughout the state this week could bring the record dry spell to an end.
Precipitation and a temperature drop Utahns will see this week are a result of two systems expected to move into Utah beginning late Tuesday, KSL meteorologist Grant Weyman said. The two patterns will enter through the northwest and southwest corners of the state, with most of the precipitation coming in the system coming from the south; the northern system will bring cooler air into the state.
The majority of the precipitation is expected Wednesday, with temperatures dropping from highs in the low 60s Monday and Tuesday to highs in the mid-to-upper 40s across the Wasatch Front. Highs are expected to drop from the 70s to 50s in St. George by midweek.
“Think of it as a lot of the rain sweeping up from the south first, and then colder air coming in from the north on Thursday," Weyman said.
While it will be cooler, Weyman said temperatures will be closer to normal for mid-November in Utah.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for lower-elevation portions of southwestern Utah, especially slot canyons. A winter storm warning is also in place for the mountain areas in the southwestern part of the state. A winter storm watch was also issued for most of Utah east of I-15, from the Wasatch Front backcountry to Milford.
Rain to snap dry stretch
The National Weather Service forecasts St. George to receive 1.5 to 2 inches of rain from Tuesday through Thursday, which would be the first measurable precipitation in the area since June 17. The agency tweeted St. George will receive more rain from this week’s storm than all rain accumulated from May 15 through Monday.
Also for historical perspective, the top 3 greatest 2-day rainfall totals for St George in November are:— NWS Salt Lake City (@NWSSaltLakeCity) November 19, 2019
- Total (Ending Date)
- 1.53" (1996-11-23)
- 1.20" (1967-11-29)
- 1.20" (1919-11-28)#utwx
Other places in southern Utah — like Cedar City, Milford, Richfield and Bullfrog — are expected to receive 0.5 to 1 inch of rain during the same time period.
The rain and snow is good news for southern Utah. In its latest report released Thursday, the U.S. Drought Monitor noted that nearly two-thirds of the state — from central to southern Utah — is in a moderate to severe drought. While the storm won’t erase the drought, Weyman said it will help in building a snowpack for the winter. A good portion of Utah’s water supply comes from melting snowpacks in the spring.
“In terms of what (the storm) really means in snowpack, it’s really just going to be a great start to the season for southern Utah if this storm delivers,” he said.
While the heavier rain is anticipated in southern Utah, some places across the Wasatch Front could experience .25 inch to .5 inch of rain from the storms with some possible flurries Thursday. Any precipitation would snap a much smaller dry spell in Salt Lake City. The National Weather Service tweeted last Thursday that Utah’s capital city hadn’t received precipitation for the first 14 days of November, something that hasn’t happened since 1967.
Snow in higher elevation areas
A winter weather warning for high-elevation areas of southwestern Utah goes into effect 5 p.m. Tuesday and will last until 4 p.m. Thursday.
Most of the snow is expected for areas in southern Utah above 7,000 feet in elevation. In fact, the National Weather Service projects higher elevation areas to recieve upwards of 2 feet of snow.
A map released by the agency shows the heaviest snow is expected southeast of Cedar City and in areas east of Milford and west of Capitol Reef National Park. However, areas east of Nephi and west of Price could also receive a foot of snow. The Wasatch Front is expected to receive upwards of 6 inches of snow.
Travel could be "difficult" on state Route 12 near Boulder Summit, state Route 14 between Cedar City and U.S. Highway 89, state Route 143 between Beaver and Junction, as well as state Route 148 near Cedar Breaks National Monument, according to the NWS alert.
Forecasts for the rest of the state can be found on the KSL Weather page.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story listed the incorrect number of days St. George had been without precipitation. The story has been updated to include the correct number.