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Utah Snowpack Winter 2023

Utah Snowpack Winter 2023
Photo by Erol Ahmed / Unsplash

In Utah, the snowpack usually reaches its peak in April, with an average of 15.8 inches over a 30-year period. However, according to the latest NRCS report, there have been new records for snow water equivalent (SWE) set at Utah's SNOTEL sites for the winter of 2023. By March 1st, 10 sites had already reported a record high SWE amount in comparison to the last 30 years, and 7 more were the second-highest. The majority of Utah's 137 SNOTEL sites have an SWE percentile ranking at or above the 85th percentile for their period of record, with 31 sites in the top five percent.

What is snowpack?

Snowpack refers to the accumulation of snow on the ground, typically in mountainous areas, that melts gradually over time to provide water for streams, rivers, and other water sources. It is an important source of freshwater for many regions, particularly in the western United States, where snowmelt runoff supplies water for agriculture, municipal use, and other purposes. The amount of water contained in the snowpack is measured by its snow water equivalent (SWE), which is the depth of water that would be produced if the entire snowpack melted at once. Snowpack levels are closely monitored by hydrologists and water managers to forecast water availability and plan for potential droughts or flooding.