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Health, Science & Environment

October Climate Meant Slow Start To Water Season

James Marvin Phelps
Flickr Creative Commons
A warm, dry Ocrtober has made it seem as though fall would never arrive in Utah. But the water year is just having a slow start.

Most years Salt Lake City’s tomato plants are killed in a hard freeze by Halloween. But this October was the warmest on record at 60.5 degrees average. Flip-flops were comfortable for trick or treating and tomatoes even survived the holiday.

Those mild temperatures are a sign that the new water season is getting off to a slow start in Utah.

Last month’s precipitation was 78 percent of average. October’s warm, dry weather left reservoirs about half full, just slightly lower than they were last year.

“We got fished out of the fire back into the frying pan by May precipitation,” says Randy Julander, a hydrologist for the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service, who pointed out that a few rainy periods protected the reservoirs from worse. “It was phenomenal.”

Julander also says it looks like the strong El Nino weather pattern that’s been predicted might already be showing up in Utah. Southern Utah from St. George to Moab has been unusually wet last month, while northern parts of the state received just over half of normal rain so far. Julander says the storms just aren’t coming yet.

“We would rather see scoring early and often with lots of storms as all the water people would like to see and the skiers would like to see,” he says. “But we’ll just have to sit back and play that waiting game for now.”

The National Weather Service is forecasting storms next week for much of Utah.

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