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John Daley ReportingThanks to heavy winter storms, Utah's snow pack was well above normal, but now near-record March temperatures are melting those snow savings away.
Today--March 19th—we’re experiencing Arizona weather. Contrast this to just a few weeks back when Utahns were living like Alaskans buried in snow. On March first statewide snow pack was solidly above average after five years of drought. But since then things have dried up and warmed up much earlier than usual, with predictable results.
Snow packs are now below normal. The danger is that the high temperatures will rob us of water that normally would end up in the reservoirs.
Brian McInerney, Hydrologist/Natl. Weather Service: "It's the worst case scenario that we could come up with to deplete the snow pack we've had."
Randy Julander, Snow Survey Supervisor: "I hate to say the word 'devastating' but boy this is the worst possible condition as far as getting snowmelt converted into stream flow, and filling reservoirs."
LeRoy Hooton, SLC Public Utilities Director: "It's the kind of weather that's great to enjoy, but it's not great for the water folks. We're actually losing snow pack when we should be building snow pack."
All this means the drought is NOT over and water managers are again scrambling to meet demand. For example, Utah Lake is on track for historic lows--like 1992, which forced Salt Lake residents to use 20% less water.
LeRoy Hooton: "The level and the water flow into Utah Lake as of now is tracking the same point it was in 1992. So obviously we're concerned."
So the message remains the same: conserve, conserve, conserve. One big culprit of water waste is over-watering our lawns, which by the way, water managers say do not need watering yet.