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Drought Situation Could Be Looking Good

Drought Situation Could Be Looking Good

Posted - Oct. 18, 2004 at 4:35 p.m.



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Jed Boal ReportingAs dry as it's been this month, we're actually in fair shape with our water situation heading into the snowy season. We're still in a drought, but there are hopeful signs.

October has been dry, but the situation looks better this week. And right now the soil is moist, which is good news, that's a big factor right now in terms of how much water we store next summer.

Many areas in Utah got a steady shower this morning. Up higher, a few inches of snow blanketed the peaks, just what the state needs to soak the soil. Hydrologist Randy Julander says a reasonably cool and wet summer helped set the stage for winter snow.

Randy Julander, Utah Snow Survey: “Our soil moisture values, compared to last year, are double or triple in most areas."

It's a complex puzzle when it comes to delivering the water we need to recover from the drought. But a key piece is soil moisture before the ground freezes and the snow falls.

Randy Julander: “At least that one small piece of the hydrologic puzzle is fitting into place. We're in much better position this year than the last two."

The last two years the soil was very dry in the fall so spring snowmelt soaked right into the soil, rather than running off into our streams and reservoirs.

Randy Julander: “At the higher elevations this will probably be the beginning of winter. The earlier we start, and the later it goes, the better off we're going to be."

Big picture, long-range our reservoirs need a massive recharge. Take a look at the water storage in the state's main drainages. Only the Uintah Basin is above 60-percent capacity. The state average is close to 30 percent and Bear Lake and the Sevier River are at the bottom of their usable capacity. Five years ago that reservoir storage was 70-90 percent of capacity.

Randy Julander: “We desperately need a good snow season."

Best case scenario, this is the beginning of a long winter.

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