Utah's unpredictable inland sea has taken a turn for the worse after nearly three months apparently in decline, the Great Salt Lake has started rising a tiny bit.
On Tuesday, hydrologists with the U.S. Geological Survey measured the lake's level at 4,209.45 feet above sea level a minute 0.12 of an inch higher than it was on April 15 the last time measured.The unusual aspect is that the lake seemed to begin its yearly decline the earliest ever recorded, on Feb. 10, when it peaked at 4,209.55. Since then, it remained stable until the April 1 measurement, when it had dropped 0.12 of an inch. By April 15, the lake had declined another inch, and the yearly drop seemed well on its way.
But this contrary puddle turned around and headed up.
Lee Case, district chief for the USGS Water Resources Division in Salt Lake City, called the turn-around "a small blip," and added that it's difficult to tell if the lake will continue going up for a while.
For the rise to go on, "it's going to take some rain and some cool, cloudy" days, he said.
"I'm not surprised," Utah's chief federal weather expert William J. Alder said of the turn-around.
"April was kind of a weird month. It was warm and dry at the first and cool and wet at the end."
Some regions of northern Utah, especially in the valleys, recorded the wettest month during April since the water year began Oct. 1. These areas included Salt Lake City, Ogden, Brigham City, and the weather station at Utah State University, Logan.
In normal years, the lake usually rises about 1.3 inches in May. "So I guess it still could go up a tad," Alder said. But he believes it will remain about where it is now before the stronger decline in the summer.
Still, with a rogue like this lake, who can tell?