Like much of the Midwest, which is having a serious drought, Utah has been rainless for more than two weeks.
But whereas farmers in the nation's central states are practically powerless to water their crops, Utah farmers are able to irrigate many of their fields with either gravity or pressure irrigation.Since pioneer days in the mid-1800s, Utah farmers have used irrigation to bring water to this desert state and have made it bloom. They have had to build canals and reservoirs, since the average annual rainfall in much of the state is only 5 to 10 inches. Not only is there little rainfall in Utah, but there is so little humidity that evaporation is much higher than in wetter, more humid climates.
In Illinois, a major farming state, rainfall over most of the state ranges from more than 30 inches a year to more than 40 inches, the humidity is generally much higher, there is much less evaporation and there are few, if any, irrigation systems in use over most of the state.
In the Mississippi Valley of Illinois and Iowa in the summer, when temperatures are in the 90s, humidity readings are often about the same.
William J. Alder, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service's Salt Lake office, says the last rainfall recorded at the Salt Lake International Airport was over the Memorial Day weekend.
He said a small amount was recorded in Logan on June 1, but other than that, most of Utah has been bone dry so far this month.
"And we are entering the driest part of the year along the Wasatch Front now - from June 20 through July 10 - so I do not expect much precipitation in Utah over the next three weeks," he said.
This means farmers who irrigate will be using their facilities at full bore, and homeowners should pay careful attention to watering their lawns and gardens.
Alder said the nation's weather map shows dry weather over much of the nation, and there is little indication that this condition will soon change.
"It looks like we are going into a dry spell nationwide, and it is hard to say just how long it will last," Alder said.
The water-year accumulation for Utah is now about 106 percent of normal, which compares with 96 percent at this time last year. The north-central and northern mountains remain below normal, while the rest of Utah is above normal.
Despite high water lines in most of the state's reservoirs, Alder said, the state has had light snowfalls for the past two winters and, if this trend continues another year, "we'll really be hurting for water next summer."