If Utah's near-record heat had settled in three weeks ago, streams and rivers across the state would have jumped their banks.

Instead, the spring runoff is proceeding in a safe, orderly fashion.

Another dangerous condition that could have caused the mountain snowpack to come down too swiftly would have been heavy rains melting the snow.

"Big, slow-moving thunderstorms — that would be a bad scenario," said Len Randolph, meteorologist for KSL-TV, Channel 5.

But it didn't happen, and thunderstorms aren't forecast anytime soon.

At least through Saturday, temperatures will remain substantially warmer than normal, both in the morning and afternoon, Randolph said.

Brian McInerney, hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City, said the increased temperatures will mean that for most of Utah's rivers, the peak of the runoff will happen "within the next seven to 10 days."

If this kind of weather had warmed Utah three weeks ago, he said, "most likely we'd have had multiple flood scenarios."

But the state basked in "mild weather that had temperatures in the mid-60s to lower 70s, with the absence of rainfall," he said. It allowed the snowfall to melt "at a very even and reduced rate."

"We melted on average about 0.7 (of an inch) to an inch of snow water equivalent in the snowpack per day. And that steady melt rate allowed us to reduce a very large snowpack to more of a manageable snowpack," he said.

During that period, so much of the snowpack turned into water and flowed through the streams that — barring unforeseen conditions — flooding is not likely. The only place river-watchers are concerned about is the Logan River.

Even there, "our models indicate that we're just going to brush flood stage." That should cause "very, very minor problems," McInerney said.

It's important to remember that an intense thunderstorm could cause localized flooding, he said. But with no such storm clouds on the horizon, that seems unlikely.

Reservoirs are in good shape, McInerney added, indicating Utah will have an adequate water supply this year.

Why is the state hotter than usual?

"We've got this dome of high pressure over us, and so we have a lot of warm air coming in over Utah out of the south," Randolph said.

The air is dry and warms quickly. Also, mostly clear skies allow sunshine to warm the atmosphere.

Comment on this story

"It's just hot," Randolph added.

And it's not only hot in Salt Lake City but throughout the state. Utah's capital flirted with a record on Monday. The high by 1 p.m. was 83 degrees, while the record for the date was 88, set in 1934.


E-mail: bau@desnews.com