This Winter's Looking Good for Curing Drought

This Winter's Looking Good for Curing Drought

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- For those looking for an end to the drought, this winter is shaping up nicely.

"The drought's not over yet, but we're on the road," said Brian McInerney, hydrologist with the National Weather Service's Salt Lake forecast office.

An unsettled wet weather pattern promises more snow shoveling in the valleys and deeper snowpack in the mountains for the next five days.

"This is a really good sign for us," McInerney said. "We've got good dynamics going. ... The key is if we can just get through January with normal or above precipitation."

McInerney said the absence so far of any regular, strong high-pressure ridges, which have kept storms away in recent years, is promising.

As of Monday, Utah's snowpack was 120 percent of average.

However, southeastern Utah is behind the pace, with the Escalante River drainage estimated at only 70 percent of normal.

"You get these pockets, where the dynamics of the storm don't hit," McInerney said.

McInerney said that even with a good winter, it will take years to refill Bear Lake, Lake Powell and other large reservoirs.

Clayton Brough and David James of the Utah Center for Climate and Weather say the storms of the past week gave Salt Lake City 2.09 inches of water, but it is still 12.11 inches below normal precipitation for October 1998 through December 2003.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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