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Snowpack Depleting Too Quickly

Snowpack Depleting Too Quickly

Posted - Mar. 23, 2004 at 4:34 p.m.



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Jed Boal ReportingThis isn't the message we want to deliver, but Utah's snowpack is disappearing quickly and that means another summer short on water. While we could still enjoy a wet, cool spring, our expectations for an end to the drought don't look good.

Maybe you've been spring skiing or even hiking in the mountains lately. Jed Boal went up to the High Uintas today with some hydrologists and their measurements show this stretch of warm weather is bad news.

Snow in the Trial Lake area in the High Uintas melts into the streams that feed the four major rivers that supply water for the Wasatch Front, and the snow is melting a month early.

Hydrologists Randy Julander and Ray Wilson are checking an electronic snowpack station to make sure the numbers it's putting out measure up with the snow on the ground, and the numbers are bad.

Randy Julander, Snowtel Snow Survey: You don't see snow melt around here until late April. Not only are we not accumulating, we're losing."

So the snow is only about three-and-a-half feet deep at 10,000 feet. It should be about seven feet deep on April first. And not only is that bad, the snow's surface is rotten and crumbling. It should be hard packed with maybe even a foot of powder on top."

Randy Julander, Snowtel Snow Survey: “Last week we lost 20-30 percent of our snowpack, stream flows barely budged."

Snowpack is dropping 2-3 percent a day. At this rate totals could be 50-60% of normal by April 1st.

Snowmelt is soaking into the dry soil and evaporating; streams would be murky with debris if run-off had arrived. Low stream flow means low reservoirs. And that's bad news for water managers trying to figure out how we can all get by with less at least one more year.

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