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Health, Science & Environment

El Nino's Not a Big Weather Factor for the Wasatch Front

SnowCanyonStatePark.JPG
Judy Fahys/KUER
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Rain clouds over Snow Canyon State Park in southwestern Utah. The southern and northern edges of the state are more likely to see some spillover effects from El Nino than the Wasatch Front.

California’s been excited about news that El Nino weather might bring some drought relief this fall and winter. But Utahns shouldn’t get their hopes up about getting the same cooler, rainier climate California expects.

“When you look at these events, we’ve had above normal precipitation years during these El Ninos,” says Randy Graham, the meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service Salt Lake City office. “We’ve had below normal. There’s not really a strong signal at all for northern Utah.”

Most of Utah lies in what’s known as a transition zone. Graham says that’s basically a region of uncertainty that’s edged by distinct patterns in the Southwest and the Northwest.

“In the West, we’re conditioned to hear ‘El Nino’ and think about all the impacts and the increased precipitation, but that’s really about central and southern California down through Arizona,” he says. “It’s not so much about what’s going on up here on the Wasatch Front.“

The first half of 2015’s been Utah’s warmest since records began. May was rainy. June was hottest June ever recorded in Utah. Martin Schroeder, staff meteorologist at the Utah Climate Center, says normal weather patterns will probably return soon.

“Looking forward,  for the next few weeks we look to stay in a rather cool phase, but at some point I expect that ridge should transition and we should see a return to warmer weather.

So far, temperatures have exceeded 90 degrees nine days this July.

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