Snow and precipitation totals for the past two Decembers in Tooele City have come in above normal, according to Ned Bevan, Tooele weather observer for the National Weather Service.
Tooele’s 2016 December snowfall total measured 18.5 inches, nearly two inches above the month’s normal of 16.8 inches. In December 2015, Tooele was pounded with 28.5 inches of snow.
Overall precipitation for December 2016 was 2.32 inches, which was more than December 2015’s total of 2.13 inches. Normal precipitation for December is 1.48 inches.
Last month’s moisture total has helped close the deficit gap for the 2016-17 water year in Tooele City. The water year now measures at 4.74 inches. Normal by the end of December is 4.98 inches. The water year begins on Oct. 1 of each year and ends the following year on Sept. 30.,
Troy Brosten, assistant state snow survey supervisor, said he hopes the uptrend in snow/water precipitation in December hangs on for a few more months, or even years.
“December has not been kind to the Utah water year since 2011; it was much better this year,” he said.
“We had a good low pressure system moving through the state the past two weeks which brought in more precipitation,” he added. “The last five years or so, we’ve had a high pressure system which pushed precipitation north of Utah.”
For now, snow/water equivalents at Snotel stations in Tooele County are sitting at above yearly averages.
“Tooele Valley is 143 percent above average for snow water equivalent and 118 percent above average for total precipitation,” Brosten said.
Snotel measurement sites on Jan. 4 showed Rocky Basin in Settlement Canyon at 131 percent above normal with 11 inches of snow/water equivalent. The normal there is 8.4 inches. Mining Fork in the Stansbury Range is at 9.3 inches or 160 percent above normal, which 5.8 inches.
The Vernon Creek site measures 5.6 inches of snow/ water, which is 144 percent of the normal 3.9 inches at this time of year.
Total snowfall for the 2016-17 water year in Tooele City measured 26 inches by Dec. 31. Normal is 30 inches.
At this same time last year, much of Tooele County was in extreme drought (D3) conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. As of Dec. 27, 2016, Tooele County was upgraded one level to (D2) severe drought. A big portion of western Tooele County is listed better than that at (D0) or abnormally dry.
Bevan also provided some temperature readings for last month. The average high was 36.6 degrees with the average low at 27.8 degrees. The maximum high was reached on Christmas Day at 57 degrees. The maximum low hit 30 degrees on Dec. 16. The minimum high for the month came on New Year’s Eve at 22 degrees. The minimum low was two days earlier on Dec. 29 at 4 degrees.
In addition, according to the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center, the weather over the next three months may include below-average temperatures. At the same time, Tooele County has an equal chance for below-average, average or above-average precipitation.