(KCPW News) After an unusually dry October and November, a series of holiday storms has helped boost the snowpack along the Wasatch Front. But there's bad news on the horizon; National Weather Service Hydrologist Brian McInerney says blue skies, and not snowstorms, dominate the long-term forecast for January.
"Really the bottom line is we need a lot of storm activity, cold storm activity, a lot of snow, from here on out," McInerney says.
Currently, snowpack in northern Utah is at about 70 to 80 percent of normal. That's about the same place we were in last year. But last January broke records for snowfall. And the cool, wet spring made for a "normal" 2008 water year. A similar situation is still possible this season. The current long-range forecasts can't accurately determine weather patterns through the spring, when the snow season ends, so McInerney says it's still too early in the season to tell whether it'll be a good water year, or a bust.
"So there's a lot of variability from now until the end of April," he says. "We're going to get close to normal; we're going to see this high pressure ridge move in. And then after that we have to wait and see."
McInerney says northern Utah is not in a drought, noting the last three to four years have had normal to above normal runoff. But the Colorado River Basin region of Utah still struggles to fill reservoirs, and remains in a long-term drought.