Storms during December helped push the month’s precipitation mark slightly above normal and also reduced a growing deficit in total moisture for the 2018-19 Water Year.
Tooele received 31.1 inches of snow last month compared to 8.5 inches of snow in December 2017, according to Ned Bevan, Tooele weather observer for the National Weather Service.
December 2018 began with 9 inches of snow on Dec. 2, and increased to the month’s final total of 31.1 inches. Normal snowfall for December in Tooele is 16.8 inches.
The December total increases snowfall to 32.6 inches for the first three months of the water year. Normal snowfall for the first three months of the water year is 25.3 inches. The water year began on Oct. 1.
With all of the snow and rain last month, total precipitation for Tooele in December equalled 1.86 inches compared to normal precipitation of 1.48 inches. Precipitation for the first three months of the water year is at 4.47 inches compared to normal precipitation of 4.98 inches.
At the end of November, the water year was behind normal by just under an inch. By Dec. 31 that mark was reduced to .51 of an inch.
In the surrounding mountains, Tuesday’s SNOTEL sites showed Rocky Basin in the Oquirrh Mountains at 38 inches of snow with 9 inches of snow water equivalent. Vernon Creek measured 33 inches of snow with 5.9 inches of snow water equivalent. The Mining Fork site in the Stansbury Mountains showed 32 inches of snow with 6.5 inches of snow water equivalent.
Currently the snowpack in Tooele Valley is at 101 percent of normal compared to about 33 percent at this same time last year, according to Troy Brosten, hydrologist with the National Resources Conservation Service.
“Overall, the state is on track for a normal snowpack year but we still have about another three to four months of winter snowpack accumulation to go and hopefully it will keep accumulating and we’ll end the winter with an above normal snowpack,” Brosten said. “I can’t predict which way it is going to go.”
He said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicates Utah is still in an El Nino pattern, which forecasts above normal precipitation in southern Utah and equal chances of above or below precipitation for northern Utah. He said the southeast and southwest basins in Utah have been lagging behind the northern basins for precipitation, but there is still time for the south to catch up.
Tooele County is currently listed as being in a state of severe drought (D2), according to the U.S Drought Monitor. Southeast Utah is listed as being in a state of exceptional drought (D4). The entire Four Corners area of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico is listed in a state of exceptional drought.
The average high temperature in Tooele for December was 32.6 degrees and the average low was 20.5 degrees.
Tooele hit a high temperature of 46 degrees on Dec. 21 with the lowest maximum temperature of 27 degrees on Dec. 5. The highest minimum temperature was 34 degrees on Dec. 19 and the temperature dipped to a monthly low of 9 degrees on Dec. 4.
The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced through a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.