According to data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, snowpack levels in Utah are anywhere between 108% and 208% of normal.
Officials said abundant snowfall in the last part of December has helped elevate those numbers.
“Right now, from a snowpack perspective, we’re above normal which is excellent news,” said Jordan Clayton, supervisor for the Utah Snow Survey Program. “The recent storms have definitely been a boost.”
The statewide snowpack average is about 130% of normal, according to Clayton.
“It’s way too soon in to get really serious about how this is going to look for us from a streams and reservoirs perspective,” Clayton said. “But it is encouraging for this time of year to see the snow looking like it does.”
Other hydrologists were equally happy about the current snowpack levels — but they expressed cautious optimism.
“What we need is continued storm activity,” said Glen Merrill, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City. “We’re only halfway through winter.”
While encouraged by current numbers, Clayton said Utah needs a lot more snow to really escape drought conditions and refill reservoirs.
“If we’re talking about getting out of the drought and digging out of the hole that we’re in, we’re probably looking at back to back banner snow years that we would need,” Clayton said. “That’s well above normal. We’re not looking at anything like that yet.”
Still, both Merrill and Clayton said current soil moisture levels provide a sense of optimism even with future fluctuations in snowpack.
“Last year at this time, we were at record low soil moistures,” Merrill said. “A lot of the water in the snowpack went straight into the soils and never got to the reservoirs. This year, our soils are in really good shape, well above normal, so no matter what we’re going to have a more efficient runoff.”
Clayton echoed a similar conclusion.
“This year,” he said, “it’s looking very likely that a larger percentage of that snow that’s actually on the mountain will make it downstream, which is where we need it.”
National Resources Conservation Service’s interactive map that covers snowpack levels in Utah can be found here.