Utah's "Great Salt Lake monster" -- the raging flood threat that required more than $50 million in dikes and pumps last year - is looking more like a pussycat every day.

The lake declined nearly five inches since July 1, U.S. Geological Survey experts found when they measured it Friday. It is now at 4,208.3 feet above sea level.Since its wintertime high, reached on Feb. 10, the lake has dropped by 15 inches, said Lee Case, district chief for the USGS's Water Resources Division in Salt Lake City.

It is more than two and a half feet lower than it was at the same time last year - lower than it was at any time since Dec. 1, 1984. And back then, it was on its way up, not down.