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After several months of promising wintry weather, February fell significantly short of expectations. But water monitors say there is still hope the weather will turn around in time to fill reservoirs for summer.

The weather pattern over Utah abruptly "went dead for the entire month" in February despite forecasts calling for above-average snowfall, said Randy Julander, Utah snow survey supervisor for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Precipitation in most areas of the state fell between 30-60 percent of normal, while unseasonably warm weather later in the month eroded what snow pack there was.

But because many of Utah's watersheds — especially those on the south side of the state — had seen considerably more snow than normal leading up to February, Julander said one month of dry weather didn't do as much damage as it could have.

"We're still in good condition, but it's definitely a setback," he said. "Instead of pie and whipped cream and a cherry on top, we're just looking at pie."

Statewide, accumulation of precipitation since last October is currently averaging 93 percent of normal, according to the latest Water Supply Outlook Report form the NRCS. Snowpack in the river basin for both Salt Lake City and Provo sits at 89 percent of normal, the Weber-Ogden basin sits at 90 percent and the Southwestern basin, which includes St. George, sits at 94 percent.

The Lower Sevier River system has fared best, with a current snow-water equivalent at 134 percent of normal.

Most areas, according to the report, are poised for early snowmelt if the warm weather continues.

Whether Utah's drought improves this summer now largely depends on what March brings to the table, Julander said. Most of Utah is still within range of normal snow accumulation, he said, and that's better than could be said of the last four years.

But, he said, "it's never good to be down in the fourth quarter, so this game is one that's going down to the wire."

A change of weather is forecast for Utah, but may not get here until spring. The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center expects the current warm weather to stick around for most of March, with a possibility of above-average precipitation for the southern side of the state. April and May look more promising, with above-average precipitation forecast for the entire state.

For most areas of the state, the crucial period for water accumulation ends in March, Julander said.

"We'd rather that it changed in March," he said, "but everyone always talks about the weather, and no one ever does anything about it."

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