After a slow first month of the new water year, precipitation during November has helped improve moisture totals in Tooele City and local mountains.
Ned Bevan, Tooele weather observer for the National Weather Service, said November produced 1.79 inches of precipitation, which is .10 above the month’s normal of 1.69 inches. The month also received 7.5 inches of snow; normal is 10.2 inches.
With November’s totals, the 2016-17 water year in Tooele City, which began Oct. 1, now stands at 2.42 inches. Normal is 3.50 inches by Nov. 30, which means the water year in Tooele City is 1.08 inches in the red.
Bevan said if October had received its normal precipitation amount of 1.81 inches, instead of 0.63 inches, the water year would be in the plus category.
“October is the culprit,” he said. “But it’s still early in the winter. We could easily get caught up with just a couple of good storms. It’s known to do that in December sometimes.”
But for Tooele City to get caught up by Dec. 31, storms will have to drop at least 2.5 inches of precipitation. Normal for the month is 1.48 inches, with 16.8 inches of snow.
As for temperature totals for November, Bevan said the warmest high was 73 degrees on Nov. 14 and the coldest was 19 degrees on Nov. 18 and 30. The average high for the month was 55.6 degrees and the average low was 32.
According to U.S. Climate data, the average high for Tooele City in November is 50 degrees and the average low is 31 degrees, which puts the city’s average high for the month more than 5 degrees above average.
Although Tooele City has already fallen behind during the water year’s first two months, the picture somewhat improves at higher elevations in local mountains.
According to SnoTel measuring stations in the Oquirrh, Stansbury and Sheeprock mountains, storms during November have helped push the water year closer to average amounts. SnoTel stands for Snow Pack Telemetry, and measures the amount of water in a column of snow. The measurement is called snow-water equivalent.
On the last day of November at Rocky Basin in the Oquirrh Mountains, SnoTel showed 4.8 inches of snow/water equivalent for 112 percent of median. The historical median for November at that site is 4.3 inches.
For the water year at Rocky Basin, total precipitation was 6.8 inches by Nov. 30 for 87 percent of average. The historical average there for the water year by Nov. 30 is 7.8 inches. The SnoTel station in Settlement Canyon’s Rocky Basin is located at 8,900 feet above sea level.
To the west at Mining Fork in the Stansbury Mountains, the SnoTel station there received during November 3.3 inches of snow/water equivalent for 118 percent of median. The historical median for November at Mining Fork is 2.8 inches.
The water year so far at that location is also positive. By Nov. 30 the site had received 7.6 inches of precipitation, which is 121 percent of average. The historical average there for the water year by Nov. 30 is 6.3 inches. The Mining Fork station is located at 8,221 feet above sea level.
At Vernon Creek in the Sheeprock Mountains, the SnoTel station during November received 0.6 inches of snow/water equivalent for 50 percent of median. The historical median there for November is 1.2 inches.
The water year total at Vernon Creek isn’t as robust as Rocky Basin and Mining Fork. By Nov. 30, SnoTel measured 3.2 inches for 63 percent of average. The historical average for the water ear there is 5.1 inches. The Vernon Creek station is located at 7,401 feet above sea level.
The SnoTel reporting stations are operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Resources Conservation Service — National Water and Climate Center.
Although higher elevation precipitation totals show improvement at Rocky Basin and Mining Fork, the U.S. Drought Monitor still has Tooele County experiencing abnormally dry conditions to moderate drought. The majority of Tooele County is still classified as D0, “abnormally dry,” while the eastern portion of the county is at D1, or “moderate drought.”
In addition, according to the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center, the weather over the next three months may include above-average temperatures. At the same time, Utah has an equal chance for below-average, average or above-average precipitation.