January 26, 2023 – So far this winter, Utah has 183% of its normal snowfall, marking the best winter in nearly 20 years.
That’s great news and helping to ease the drought conditions in the state.
Still, concerns about the Great Salt Lake continue, where levels remain nine feet below target. The state has created a website dedicated to news and solutions concerning the Great Salt Lake and legislators are already introducing bills aimed at preserving the lake, the largest saline lake in the Western Hemisphere and the eighth largest in the world. “The lake contributes $1.9 billion to Utah’s economy (adjusted for inflation), provides over 7,700 jobs, supports 80% of Utah’s valuable wetlands, and provides a stopover for millions of birds to rest and refuel during migration each year. Lake effect snow also contributes 5-10% to Utah’s snowpack,” the state website says.
It is unclear whether the snowpack will continue to build.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, “The NOAA Climate Prediction Center’s Seasonal Outlook shows chances of drought removal or improvement for central and northern California, Oregon, Idaho, and the northern Rockies, with drought remaining in southern California, Nevada, and Utah. The current forecasts indicate atmospheric river activity could pick up again in early February, but the storm tracks are still uncertain.” The Drought Monitor warns that long-term drought persists in the west, and pockets of extreme (D3) and exceptional (D4) drought continue to persist in Utah, Nevada, and central and eastern Oregon. The following is the last available map of the Western states from the Drought Monitor, dated January 17: