Low Snowpack Signals Fifth Year of Drought

Low Snowpack Signals Fifth Year of Drought

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News Specialist Jed Boal reporting It's hard to imagine Utah's drought getting any more severe, but that's exactly what's happening.

Snowpack in Utah's mountains is so low right now that hydrologists are nearly certain we are headed into the fifth straight year of drought.

The slopes along the Wasatch Front are bare. At higher elevations, there's snow...but, not nearly enough to help us out of this dismal drought.

It simply keeps getting worse.

Take a look out over the High Uintas from Bald Mountain. Snow should completely cover these peaks, but it's sparse, and disappearing.

Randy Julander and Bob Gnalt of the Utah Snow Survey manually checked snow depth at their electronic station at Trial Lake.

They want to make sure the surprising readings are accurate at the headwaters of the four big rivers of Northern Utah.

They found only 33 inches of snow -- less than half of what it should be.

"It would take a record maximum snowpack accumulation over February and March to get us back to average conditions by April 1. That's a long shot at best," says Randy Julander with the Natural Resources Conservation Services.

Snowpack, stream flows and reservoir storage could reach record lows again this spring.

Farmers and ranchers will suffer, and we can all expect new water restrictions. We'll have drinking water, but irrigation will be restricted.

This will be the fifth year of drought.

The hydrologist says only the droughts of 1977 and 1963 come anywhere close to this. Julander calls this uncharted territory, and we'll all have to navigate together.

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