Monsoon's mark: Grand Canyon lifts water measure; Utah rain totals are going up

Summer rain showers pass over Grand Canyon Village at Grand Canyon National Park. The park has received nearly 5 inches of rain since the start of July.

Summer rain showers pass over Grand Canyon Village at Grand Canyon National Park. The park has received nearly 5 inches of rain since the start of July. (National Park Service)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Grand Canyon National Park officials announced Monday that they are lifting mandatory water conservation measures at the South Rim because water storage has finally returned to "acceptable" levels, as a result of rain over the past few weeks.

It's the recent example of benefits from this year's monsoonal storms.

This summer has been especially wet in and around the Grand Canyon. Entering Monday, the National Weather Service's station at the Grand Canyon National Park Airport has received 5.34 inches of rain since June — nearly four times the total precipitation accumulation of the first five months of the year combined.

The area normally receives 2.6 inches of rain in July and August; it has already received 4.94 inches with a little more than two full weeks left in August, according to weather service data. The National Centers for Environmental Information also notes that Arizona's average of 2.47 inches last month placed as the state's 25th-wettest on record.

Despite the recent surge, the Grand Canyon State remained on track for its 23rd-driest year after July. This is why Grand Canyon park officials said people should remain conscious about their water use in and around the park.

"Water conservation measures are generally prudent in the desert West to conserve water resources," they said, in a statement.

Water is available at Supai Tunnel at the North Kaibab Trail in the park, but remains off at the Mile-and-a-Half and Three-Mile rest house because of a damaged pipe above the rest house at Mile-and-a-Half that is still being repaired.

New Mexico has also had a productive summer, receiving 4.92 inches statewide in June and July. It's helped the Land of Enchantment move down from being on pace for its seventh-driest year after May to its 44th-driest after July, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information.

The U.S. Drought Monitor still lists most of each state in drought, though nowhere as severe as earlier this year. For example, nearly four-fifths of New Mexico was listed in at least extreme drought three months ago. The percentage has dropped to a little below 30%.

Above-normal rainfall in Utah

The storms have also helped out Utah as monsoonal moisture continues to venture north into the Beehive State.

The nearly 2 inches of rain collected in Utah in the last month is above the 1.5 inches normally collected in the same timeframe, Utah Division of Water Resources officials said in their weekly Friday drought update.


If your area received rain, turn off your sprinklers and save that water for another day.

–Joel Ferry, the acting executive director of the Department of Natural Resources


The rains have been enough for fire restrictions to be lifted on state and federal-managed lands in southeastern Utah, which went into effect on Friday. Soil moisture levels also remain high, especially in the state's mountains, which is important for next year's spring runoff.

Yet Utah's reservoirs continue to struggle, falling to 50% of capacity to start the week. A little more than 79% of the state still remains in at least extreme drought, too.

It's why Joel Ferry, the acting executive director of the Department of Natural Resources, says it's important for residents to continue to reduce water consumption, especially when monsoonal rain reduces the need to water lawns.

"As a state, many areas have been fortunate to receive significant rainfall. However, we need to stay vigilant and look for ways to stretch the water supply," he said, in a statement. "If your area received rain, turn off your sprinklers and save that water for another day."

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Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com. He previously worked for the Deseret News. He is a Utah transplant by the way of Rochester, New York.

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