If you’re watching the snow hit the ground at home, lift up your eyes to the hills.
It’s the snow on the mountains around the valley that will help fill our reservoirs and restore our groundwater when the spring runoff season starts.
As of Tuesday morning, Jan. 17, 2023, the peaks around the Tooele-Rush Valley Basin were holding 237% of the 30-year median value of snow water equivalent for the same day of the year, according to the National Resources Conservation Service.
Snow water equivalent is a measure of the water content of the snowpack. Weather watchers use that figure along with others to assist them in forecasting the water future.
The year 1983 was a water year many remember for the great spring floods. Fields in Tooele Valley were under water as a combination of high snow pack and a quick thaw caused historically high floods.
In Salt Lake County, State Street turned into a flowing river. The Great Salt Lake overflowed and pumps were installed to remove water from the lake if high water years like 1983 ever returned.
The snow water equivalent, SWE, on Jan. 17, 1983 in the Tooele-Rush Valley Basin was 222% of the 30-year average.
The previous all time high SWE for Jan. 17 was 15.0 inches set in 1997. 2023’s SWE for Jan. 17 at 17.2 inches set a new all time high.
And there is more on the way.
The National Weather Service forecast for the Tooele-Rush Valley shows 40% chance of snow on Thursday day with 20% chance in the evening.
But it doesn’t stop there. The forecast continues with a 50% chance of snow on Sunday.
Weather experts caution us not to get too excited though.
It will take several years of above-normal precipitation to return our water staus to normal after several years of drought, they say.
They also remind of last year when the water-year started out above normal but then it dried out like somebody turned the faucet off for the rest of the year and statistics took a dive to well below normal.