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Health, Science & Environment

Utah's Grim 2016 Water Year Ends Well

Natural Resouces Conservation Service

Utah’s 2016 water year ended this week and it was full of surprises.  

Randy Julander is the snow survey supervisor with Natural Resources Conservation Service. He says the outlook was grim after a long hot dry summer.

“But then right there at the end of September we had that huge storm. In fact, it became a series of storms in which most areas across the state got between 1 and about 3 inches of precipitation and some areas got between 3 and 6 inches of precipitation and what that has done," says Julander, "it has really filled that soil moisture reservoir back up to exceptional levels if we look at it right now. In fact, we’re dealing a lot with near saturated soil levels at this point.”

Julander says that will dry out a little in the coming months but it’s a good place to be to start out the new water year. He says climate forecasters so far are neutral on their outlook.

“They’re saying temperatures this winter will be a bit warmer than normal. And they’re also saying what we call equal chances," Julander says, "in other words, there’s really no forecast ability in this particular winter.”

Julander says reservoirs are generally down 5 to 8 percent from this time last year. He named numerous reservoirs that are basically empty including Echo, Piute, Gunnison, Sevier Bridge and Vernon Creek. But he says Utah is not nearly as bad off as California.  

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