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March's Wet Weather Is Both Good and Bad

March's Wet Weather Is Both Good and Bad

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John Daley reportingThis month's wet weather is a good news/bad news story. Most of Utah's small- to medium-sized reservoirs will fill for the first time in years. But flooding is almost certain in some towns.

Forget about the basketball. When it comes to March madness, compare Utah's weather last year to this year. March 2004, a blockbuster snowpack melted away by record temperatures.

Brian McInerney/ Hydrologist, Natl. Weather Service/March 200: "It's the worst case scenario that we could come up with to deplete the snowpack we've had."

March 2005, Utah boasts another banner snowpack.. But instead of melting, a series of mid-month storms drops more.

Brian McInerney/ Hydrologist, National Weather Service: "Right now I think we're looking at a perfect scenario for the Wasatch Mountains, Northern Utah as far as water supply."

It being the mad month of March, nothing, of course, is simple. Consider the Midway Valley--high in mountains east of Cedar City...the snow depth was already a record. Then recent storms added another seven inches of water.

The question isn't so much if there'll be flooding, that's virtually a certainty in Southern Utah. The question is where, and how bad will it get?

Randy Julander/Utah Snow Survey: "This has been a million dollar storm for water supply in the north, and it looks like it might be a million dollar storm as far as damages in the south."

When it comes to water supply, hydrologists predict run-off will fill small to mid-sized reservoirs like Deer Creek, Rockport, Echo, even Jordanelle.

But the big boys like Bear Lake, Flaming Gorge, the Great Salt Lake, Utah Lake and Lake Powell will take a number of years.

On the flood front, the areas of top concern now are on the southside of the Uintahs and in southern Utah...Coal Creek and the Santa Clara River.

"If it's going to be cool and wet, we'll have additional runoff. If it's going to be warm and dry, we'll have less runoff."

How will it all turn out? Who knows? It's March.

The state's Department of Public Safety is urging Utahns to buy flood insurance and says it's the best thing you can do to protect your home, given all the wet weather.

The average policy costs a little more than $337 a year for about $100-thousand in coverage.

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