'Pineapple Express' brings a bit of welcome moisture
While the threat of drought has not been eliminated by the latest storms, the outlook has improved. Over the last week, snow water content has increased dramatically, due to some wet, western storms called the Pineapple Express.
As of Monday morning important watershed areas near Price which affect western Carbon County's water supply have increased their water content significantly. Reports from the Natural Resource Conservation Service say that the Price watershed is up 19 percent over what it was the end of January.
In the Price-San Rafael drainage, and that which affects the Carbon area directly, the Clear Creek area has increased water content by 2.4 inches. In addition Mammoth-Cottonwood has increased 2.8 inches and the White River has gone up 2.6 inches.
The area still needs more precipitation before the end of the snow accumulation period which ends April 1.
Overall reservoir storage is at 40 percent of capacity, compared to 48 percent last year. Scofield Reservoir has the lowest of 20 percent capacity.
Snowpack in the Price and San Rafael Basins was much below average at 67 percent, compared to 91% last year before the storms of the past week. Precipitation in January was below average at 74 percent, which brought the seasonal accumulation (October-January) to 77 percent of average. Forecast stream flow volumes range from 52 percent to 88 percent of average. The surface water supply index was 12 percent for the Price River, 30 percent for Joe's Valley, 47 percent for Ferron Creek at the first of the month, but as this month progresses with more storms that could easily change.
Across the state January wasn't much when it comes to snow accumulation. For northern Utah there were essentially two storms, one at the beginning, one at the end. In southern Utah there was only one storm at the end of the month - and the one previous to that was in early December. Few storms equates to little snow. The Bear and the Weber are slightly higher than January but the rest of the state declined 6 percent to 37 percent compared to January 1. The biggest declines were in southeast Utah, the Upper Sevier and southwest Utah, down 25 percent to 37 percent. Central Utah, Provo and Uintah Basin declined 6 percent to 10 percent relative to January 1.
"If you want to get out of a hole, the first thing you have to do is quit diggin' and it doesn't appear we have put the shovel down," said Randy Julander of the NRCS.
However upon the good news this week about moisture he was more positive in his latest report saying that all that is happening is a positive thing.
Unfortunately lower elevation southern sites have actually been melting snow. And the recent storms did little for that part of Utah.
Julander reports that overall, the water supply outlook is below average across almost the entire state even with recent storms. The exception is now the very northern part of the state where huge amounts of snow fell in the last week. It may not be entirely recovered, but the amount that fell was significant.