Despite severe drought spread over much of the summer, Tooele City has ended the water year slightly above average.
During the course of the water year, which ran from Oct. 1 2012 to Sept. 30, 2013, Tooele accumulated 20.23 inches of precipitation from rain and snowmelt, slightly more than the average normal of 19.76 inches per water year, said Ned Bevan, a weather observer for the National Weather Service.
Rainy September weather, which brought Tooele 2.39 inches of precipitation, compared to a normal of 1.52, brought the valley up to speed, but wasn’t entirely responsible for the year-end total, he said.
July, like September, saw above-average rainfall, with a total of 2.59 inches compared to the normal .88. April, likewise, substantially exceeded normal levels of precipitation, but March, May and August were unusually dry, Bevan said. June was exceptionally bad, without so much as a drop of recorded rain at Bevan’s monitoring station.
“It’s been kind of an odd year,” he said.
Tooele Valley also had more snow than average last winter. Snowfall totaled 97 inches, 13.5 inches above normal.
The additional precipitation has done little to alleviate the drought, however, which according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, continues to impact the entire county.
Yet, state-wide, severe drought conditions are no longer wide-spread. In August, severe drought conditions were reported for about 54 percent of the state. As of Oct. 1, the drought was considered severe in just 16.33 percent of Utah, including most of Tooele County.
Temperatures were a bit on the cool side last month as well, with an average high of 75 degrees and an average low of 55 degrees for the month, Bevan said. Normal average temperatures in September range from a low of 53.7 to a high of 79.4, according to data from the Western Regional Climate Center.
September temperatures also varied widely from the beginning of the month to the end. On Sept. 6, the hottest day of the month, temperatures climbed to 91 degrees. By Sept. 27, temperatures fell as low as 36 degrees and did not exceed 48 degrees, said Bevan.
Cool temperatures and much-needed rain seem to have alleviated a water shortage at Settlement Canyon Reservoir. Water use dropped from 30 inches per week in August to 7 inches in September. The reservoir is down to its last 20 inches of water, but Gary Bevan, president of Settlement Canyon Irrigation company, expected water supplies to last through the company’s usual shut-off date in mid-October.
“I didn’t think we would, but we got rain and cooler weather, and we made it,” he said.
The last-minute September rain also helped Grantsville Reservoir with its own shortage. However, Grantsville Irrigation watermaster Lynn Taylor said the company still decided against issuing farmers additional shares this year.
“It just made us so we weren’t quite as short,” he said.