Heavy mountain snows lighten water worries

Forecast » Valley rain likely into this afternoon and again by Saturday.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Any lingering fears that Wasatch Mountain snows might dry up too quickly this spring are buried under the 14 feet that fell in Alta in as many days.

Rain and snow storms that began March 22 after a long spell of dry, warm weather continue to pelt Utah, with winter storm warnings and weather advisories stretching along the Interstate 15 corridor from Idaho to Milford.

When all that snow does finally melt, said National Weather Service hydrologist Brian McInerney, it appears the runoff will flow as it should -- into the reservoirs, without jumping the banks.

"Unless the weather goes monstrous for the rest of April," he said, "most likely we are not even close to any kind of flood scenario."

Weather Service maps show precipitation from October through March was above normal in western Utah, near normal in the central region but drier in the eastern and southern areas.

The headwaters of the Colorado River saw normal to above-normal precipitation but not so healthy amounts in the Uinta Mountains. Runoff will vary by region; some areas stand at 50 percent of the 30-year average and others at more than 100 percent.

The Weather Service said Wednesday the Pacific storms rolling in will bring valley rain, mountain snow and maybe thunderstorms into this afternoon. Small hail fell in some areas Wednesday. Gusty winds could kick up, particularly over northern Utah.

Another storm system is likely to occur by late Friday, forecasters said. The heaviest precipitation is expected across southern Utah at night, but by Saturday afternoon the storm will spread into the state's central and northern regions.

High temperatures in Salt Lake City will be in the low to upper 50s, with lows in the upper 30s and low 40s. St. George will see daytime highs in the 70s with overnight lows mostly in the mid-40s.

Listen to the forecast:

The National Weather Service has posted a narrative report on Utah's water supplies and precipitation at www.wrh.noaa.gov/slc/river/presentations/

Click on April 2009 Live Presentation to hear it for yourself.