Dry November weather has done little for Tooele County’s drought situation, but December looks promising so far on account of this week’s storm.
Tooele saw 1.29 inches of precipitation last month, nearly half an inch less than average, according to Ned Bevan, a cooperative weather observer in Tooele for the National Weather Service. He also recorded six inches of snowfall for the month, about four inches below normal.
In the mountains, where snowpack is essential to next year’s water supply, snow levels across the county also remain below average, said Randy Julander, a snow survey supervisor for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The snow level at the Rocky Basin monitoring station, located above Settlement Canyon, was just 37 percent of normal as of Tuesday morning. The mountains above Grantsville have faired better—snowpack at the Mining Fork monitoring station was 87 percent of normal. In Vernon, at the Vernon Creek station, snowpack was about 50 percent of normal.
Reservoirs in Tooele Valley also remain significantly below capacity, Julander said. Grantsville reservoir was at 22 percent of capacity Tuesday morning, Settlement Canyon at 26 percent, and Vernon at 17 percent.
“This fall has been very long and very pleasant,” Julander added, but has been notable for its lack of substantial snowfall. If the situation does not improve, he said, there will be water shortages again next summer.
However, Julander said he was still optimistic about Tooele Valley’s odds of a good winter with heavy snowfall this year. Climate forecasts have given much of the state equal odds for above and below average precipitation. And this week’s storm, which is expected to remain in the area through Wednesday, could give mountain snowpack a much-needed boost.
The National Weather Service has predicted enough snowfall this month to provide some drought relief. However, long-term climate forecasts expect severe drought conditions to remain in most of Tooele County at the end of the season.
Though dry, November was an otherwise uneventful month for weather, with average temperatures within a solidly normal range. The month saw an average high of 50 degrees, and an average low of 31 degrees.
Tooele’s historic normals for the month are 49.7 degrees and 31 degrees, according to the Western Regional Climate Center.