Though April typically is one of Tooele County’s wettest months, this year it did little to help the area catch up to precipitation norms.
Tooele City saw roughly 1.53 inches of precipitation last month, according to data from Ned Bevan, a cooperative weather observer for the National Weather Service. Normal for April is 2.49 in Tooele.
April’s precipitation brings Tooele to a total of 10.61 inches for the 2013-2014 water year, about 1.58 inches behind normal, according to Bevan. Prior to the month of April, Tooele was just .62 inches behind normal.
A water year is recorded from Oct. 1 to Sept. 31.
The fact that April and May are usually the two wettest months of the year makes the situation that much worse, said Lynn Taylor, watermaster for Grantsville Irrigation Company.
“Right now, it don’t look good,” he said.
The lack of April rain has left the Grantsville Reservoir with a significantly smaller supply of water than last year, he said. The water level at the reservoir is more than 3 feet below its level at this time last year — and water was in limited supply last year as well, Taylor said.
Though the irrigation company still plans to wait until the end of May to come to any final word about how shares will be issued this year, Taylor said it was likely that users would receive fewer turns than last year.
Settlement Canyon Irrigation is in a similar situation, with the water level currently about 2 feet below its level this time last year, said Gary Bevan, Settlement Canyon Irrigation Company president. Because of the possibility of water shortages later this year, the company plans to open the irrigation season with weekend watering restrictions in place. All users will be barred from watering from 8 p.m. on Friday to 7 a.m. on Monday.
The company had intended to turn on the water this past Saturday, Bevan said, but was unable to do so on account of a power outage. Rocky Mountain Power is in the process of replacing a line in Settlement Canyon, and while working on the project it temporarily removed the lines that serve the Settlement Canyon dam, Bevan said. The company plans to attempt to turn the water on again this next Saturday.
Snowpack above Vernon and Grantsville is also melting rapidly. The Vernon snotel station is already reporting a complete loss of snow cover, and the Grantsville station has lost nearly 30 inches of snow since April 1. Settlement Canyon continues to maintain its snowpack, with 37 inches of remaining snow.
But the dry trend may change over the next few months, according to the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center. Tooele temperatures are expected to rise to several degrees above normal through this coming July —but above average precipitation is expected as well.
However, the U.S. Drought Monitor has yet to report an improved drought forecast for the Tooele area. Much of Tooele County continues to experience what the drought monitor classifies as severe drought conditions, and the drought is expected to remain the same or to continue to intensify this summer.
April temperatures remained within or near the normal range last month, with an average high of 62 and an average low of 39, according to Bevan. The Western Regional Climate Center puts normal April temperatures for Tooele between 62.5 and 40.2 degrees.