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Winter snowpack below average for third year

It has been two years of poor snowpack in Utah, so this winter is critical in order to fill the reservoirs. However, the numbers this year, are worse than last.

It has been two years of poor snowpack in Utah, so this winter is critical in order to fill the reservoirs. However, the numbers this year, are worse than last.

“When you're a skier, you want snow in inches, knee deep waist deep, then it's fabulous. As a water manager, you want to know what kind of water's in the snow,” said Brian McInerney, Hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City.

130 stations are placed across Utah’s mountains, often hidden among ski slopes, in order to measure how much water is in Utah’s snow.

McInerney said Utah’s snowpack is at 66% of normal, with 100% representing an average year.

“If you want to fill the reservoirs this year, we're going to need approximately 120% runoff volume coming out of the mountains,” said McInerney. “Right now we're only forecasting in the low 60% of that, almost half of what we need.”

2012 and 2013 were both lackluster, but 2014 is looking even worse so far. A third year in a row could spell trouble.

“They have a two year capacity, roughly,” said McInerney. “It'll be the farmers that'll take the first hit.”

What are the chances of hitting that “normal” mark this winter? Only 15%.

“We need to come up with about four feet, maybe 5 feet of snow to get this back to average or normal,” said McInerney. “It doesn't look good that we're going to make it back to normal at this point.”

 

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