In Utah, we get approximately 95% of our water from snowpack. Reservoir storage is dependent upon snowpack and runoff to get us through dry years. Extended drought has depleted our reservoirs, and it will take multiple years of above-average snowpack and precipitation to reverse drought impacts.
Monitoring snowpack helps our water managers and partners make management decisions to increase our resiliency.
NRCS Snow Survey Program
The NRCS Snow Survey Program provides mountain snowpack data and streamflow forecasts for the western United States. Common applications of Snow Survey products include water supply management, flood control, drought and avalanche prediction, climate modeling, recreation and conservation planning.
Experts track snowpack using snow water equivalent (SWE), which estimates how much snow would be in the water if it melted. You can view annual snow water equivalent for Utah from 1981 to the present, as well as median, maximum and minimum values, on the NRCS site.
Utah’s snowpack is currently above average for this time of year and is higher than our median peak last year. Typically, our snowpack peaks around April, with a 30-year median of 15.8 inches. This year, we reached 80% snowpack before mid-January. NRCS reports that we are guaranteed an above-normal snowpack. While these numbers are encouraging, experts are cautious in predicting our spring runoff this early in the season.