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Wanted for March: Wet North, Dry South

Wanted for March: Wet North, Dry South



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The ideal weather for the next month or so would be a series of storms that would avoid southern Utah but keep building the snowpack in the northern mountains.

Utah's chief snow surveyor, Randy Julander, said the opposite scenario could mean floods in the south and continued drought the north.

If March turns out extremely warm and dry in northern Utah, the current decent snowpack could evaporate, doing little to break the six-year drought. That's what happened in 2004.

Julander, snow survey supervisor for the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service in Salt Lake City, said parts of Utah will definitely "get a lot of water this year." The drought may be effectively over in those regions.

Those areas include the Santa Clara and Virgin river drainages in southwestern Utah, the Escalante River, the Upper Sevier River and southeastern Utah.

"Those areas are going to have a tremendous amount of water," he said, adding that residents "should be preparing to receive that water right now."

The snowpack in the Uinta Basin also could "rip and run, big time," Julander said.

Some southern Utah regions have record snowpacks and there's still up to two months to go.

Water flows will be very high into the summer, he said.

"This is not a good year for Boy Scouts to be wandering down in the slot canyons and the Virgin Narrows and places like that," he said.

Meanwhile, the latest measurements of snow courses throughout northern Utah place the snowpack at 115 percent to 130 percent of normal.

"If we have a warm, dry March on the Weber, the Provo and the Bear (rivers), that could spell disaster for us," he said. "We'd love to see the storms start hitting the north instead of the south."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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