SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – It’s been a hot topic for months and with the higher than normal amount of rainfall in the last several weeks, is Utah’s drought over?
“It’s improving things a bit but to the point where we’re as dry as we are, we’re now in the 4th year of below average Spring snow runoff,” said Brian McInerney, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor Index, Utah is currently in the top three levels of drought. Taking a closer look at the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook, the rainfall in April and May along with the prospects for a good monsoon season may help ease the drought even more in the state.
While taking a look at the graph, Brian McInerney pointed out that Utah will see an improvement in drought conditions for the most part, while pointing out that the drought will continue to persist in the West.
Officials were quick to point out that the drought is a complex issue, and the above average rainfall we saw in April and May has wiped out short term drought conditions in the state and Utah wont see any of those conditions, however, in the long term the rainfall didn’t generate enough runoff to help with Utah’s reservoir storage.
“You look at range conditions, you look at forest conditions, you look at agriculture in general, these rains are multi-million dollar storms,” said Randy Tolander, Snow Survey Supervisor for the Natural Resources Conservation Services for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Officials say the wet May month will also have a significant impact going into the summer months.
“Because we’re not using water right now, that is water that is being stored into our reservoirs which is a months worth of water that we can use further on into the summer, that’s a huge bonus!” said Tolander.
It’s the dry factor during the summer months, officials say, is the key factor in determining the severity of our drought levels. In the past three years Utah has seen great rainfall during the month of July and they remain optimistic this July – combined with May’s above average rainfall – will provide Utah with a bigger boost out of the drought.
“That’s just one of those things that’s an unknown at this point, if it does happen that will go a long way in taking some of the edge off the drought as well,” said Tolander.