Utah enjoyed healthy precipitation in January, allowing the National Weather Service to issue an optimistic report about this spring's runoff.
Hydrologist Brian McInerney, who issues his reports via the Web to make science more available, says this water year is "looking very good."
As of Feb. 11, his prediction for water supplies between April and October are from 83 percent to 109 percent of normal compared with the past 30 years.
At the same time, spring runoff is forecast to be below normal, except for Lake Powell, forecast at 101 percent of normal. But, thanks to last winter's unusually high precipitation, it looks like water will be readily available.
Though precipitation was less than 50 percent of normal in March and April, temperatures stayed cold and kept the snow in place for an orderly melt.
"We filled the majority of the reservoirs," McInerney says. "Hopefully we can do that again" this year.
The one region not faring well is Bear River, where reservoirs and the lake average only 48 percent of normal. Another lagging region is the Green River, where snowpack was only 68 percent of average this week. But the Weber, Wasatch, Provo, Duchesne and Sevier basins range from 92 percent to 106 percent of normal -- and the Virgin River basin is 137 percent of normal, McInerney says.
While he cautioned that long-range forecasts are reliable only for seven to 10 days, McInerney says increased storm activity will favor southern Utah and western Colorado, whose runoff feeds Lake Powell.
In January, most days in Salt Lake City were 5 to 10 degrees above normal, but cold days brought the monthlong average to 1.8 degrees above normal.
National Weather Service hydrologist Brian McInerney posts detailed temperature and precipitation reports, complete with narration explaining all the charts and graphs at http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/slc/river/presentations/