Lack of storms in January shrinking Utah snowpacks

Published: Friday, Jan. 30 2009 12:18 a.m. MST

Jon Glauser uses a snowblower to clear the driveway of his cabin in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

A hazy and not so snowy January has reduced Utah's snowpack statewide to 89.5 percent of average.

That's down 16.5 percent from a month ago, when it was 106 percent.

With just a couple of days left in the month and no new storms on the horizon, the state's snowpack will likely continue to diminish through at least the middle of next week and mid-February.

According to the National Weather Service, partly cloudy to sunny skies should persist through next Wednesday, offering little hope of additional snowfall.

Only five of Utah's drainage areas — Provo River, southeastern Utah, Sevier River, Beaver River and Virgin River — remain above average, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The Virgin River drainage remains No. 1 in the state with 124 percent of normal. Lowest is the Green River at 69 percent.

Northern Utah remains at 98 percent of average, with the highest section, the Provo-Utah Lake-Jordan River drainage, at 101 percent, while the lowest is the Bear River at 95 percent.

In another moisture measurement, actual year-to-date precipitation, Utah fares much better at 103 percent of normal statewide. That's an important consideration because it means wetter soil should absorb less of the melting snowpack this spring — if that continues to remain above average.

The Salt Lake City International Airport had received 2.15 inches of moisture (or 10.3 inches of snow) through Jan. 29.

Salt Lake City's forecast calls for sunny skies and a high near 39 Friday, followed by partly cloudy conditions and a high of 40 on Saturday.

Friday's overnight low should be about 26 degrees and Saturday's low at around 22.

The avalanche danger still remains high from Utah County to Logan.

Air quality is predicted to be moderately healthy Friday for Utah, Salt Lake and Davis counties.

E-mail: lynn@desnews.com

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