UT snow levels are worst in decades

UT snow levels are worst in decades

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) - Parts of Utah are seeing the worst snow levels in 30 years. Experts worry this trend could become the norm. Ski resorts are still able to use their snow making machines to keep runs open.

Brian McInerney is a Hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City who notes how hard it can be to recover from low numbers like these.

"When you end December with low numbers like we're seeing for the majority of the state, said McInerney. "Our probability of getting back to average is really quite low."

The majority of the low snowpack is in Southern and Central Utah. Northern areas of the state including many ski resorts are still around 70 - 96 percent of normal levels.

Some ski resorts in Utah and around the West have had to rely more heavily on snow making machines than normal.

Megan Collins who is a the Communications Coordinator for Snowbasin Resort points out that using snow machines early is something that happens every year for them. It often allows them to control the early snowpack.

"It allows us to kick off the season and get a good base going and then we pile it up with that soft stuff."

Collins said the resort hasn't had to use their machines more than normal this year. They are only about 10 inches below the normal for this time of season.

Experts note that much of the weather systems currently being seen are similar to 2012-2106 when the West experienced serious drought. There is worry it could be the new normal.

"We get more of this type of weather across the West, and that trend is expected to only increase so we can expect more of this," said McInerney.

If that's the case it could start to put pressure on the water resources resorts need to make their snow. Although many have began making their own reservoirs, and own their own water rights.

Ski enthusiast are hopeful a late snow could make up the difference. According to News 4 Utah Chief Meteorologist Dan Pope that snow likely won't start coming for another couple of weeks.

"Until we get a little closer to the shift in the entire Northern Hemisphere which I suspect will happen around the second week of January," said Pope. "No big storms are showing up on the computer charts right now."

Experts point out that last years much higher than average snow totals did help to replenish reservoirs in the area.

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