According to the monthly Utah Climate and Water Report, the state’s water situation took a hit during the month of April.
“April was a rough month for precipitation in Utah’s valley locations, with a statewide average of just 0.6 inches,” said Jordan Clayton, supervisor and data collection officer for the Utah Snow Survey, part of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. During March the average was 1.3 inches in the valley locations.
“Unfortunately, drought conditions worsened during the month, with the percentage of Utah under drought conditions increasing to about 87 percent this month,” Clayton said. “This is a 10 percent increase over last month. The area of severe drought increased to about 5 percent of the state.”
In the Upper Sevier River Basin, precipitation through April was 53 percent of average.
This brings the seasonal accumulation so far this water year to 89 percent of average.
Some good news is the soil moisture level is at 80 percent currently, up 2 percent from last year. Reservoir storage is at 93 percent of capacity, which was at 62 percent at the same point last year.
The water availability index for the Upper Sevier is 61 percent of average as of May 1.
“This is an unfortunate time of the year for dry conditions, since the growing season is just beginning in many Utah locations,” Clayton said. “The water year total for Utah’s lower elevations now stands at 5.6 inches.”
On average, soil moisture conditions at the beginning of the growing season are below avaerage and soil temperatures are significantly above, Clayton said.
“While the snow water equivalent in Utah’s mountains had been hovering around average for a while, April did not deliver its typical amount of precipitation,” Clayton said. “As of May 1, the statewide SWE is 78 percent of normal, which is a drop of 29 percent from the previous month.”