Spring 2019 is now the second wettest ever in Salt Lake City — and not only are there still three days left in May, but it’s still raining.
According to the National Weather Service, as of 2 p.m. on Tuesday, the March-April-May rain total climbed to 10.89 inches. That’s less than an inch behind the wettest spring on record — 11.73 inches in 2011 — but rain is in the forecast through Friday.
“We have been in a pattern where high pressure has kept storm tracks right over us,” said Christine Kruse, a forecaster with the National Weather Service. “We had one after another after another.”
With persistent cool weather, the snowpack in northern Utah mountains remains fairly deep, raising concerns that meltwater could tumble out of the canyons in a chaotic torrent if a heat wave hits.
“The rivers are going to run high, but we are not expecting widespread flooding,” Kruse said. “If we have a week in the 70s, that lets the snow melt off at a slower rate. The problem is if we are in the 50s and suddenly we are in the 90s. It is something people should monitor, especially if their house is prone to flooding.”
She cautioned that people should exercise caution around rivers and keep children and pets at a safe distances during the spring runoff.
“People need to be aware the streams are running high and very cold,” Kruse said. “If you fall in, it could be a matter of seconds before you are starting to drown no matter how strong you are.”
The wet spring comes on top of what already has been an exceptionally snowy winter for northern Utah and its famous ski areas, whose trade association just reported its busiest season ever with 5.125 million skier visits statewide.
Snowbird, the only Utah resort that has yet to close for the ski season, still has more than nine feet of snow at midmountain.
The resort reported a near-record 711 inches of snowfall this ski season, allowing it to keep running lifts for at least a few more weeks, according to Snowbird spokesman Brian Brown.
“We do not have a closing date. We plan on operating Friday through Sunday till Father’s Day [June 16]. The goal would be, if conditions permit, to stay open past Father’s Day,” Brown said. “Only two years in Snowbird’s 47-year history have been better.”
Those seasons were 1982-83 and 1994-95, when the resort logged 743 and 745 inches, respectively.
“Our average snowfall is 500 inches. For us to be 211 inches over average is certainly a rare year. The last year anywhere close was 2011,” Brown said. “We keep getting high water density in our storms. Not a lot of that has begun to melt with the temperatures being cool.”
He said May’s storms look more like March than the eve of summer.
Snowbird will run Peruvian, Little Cloud and Mineral Basin lifts this weekend and resume running its aerial tram the following weekend. Its operating hours have been moved to 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to reflect the late season sunrise. On the West Coast, Mammoth and Squaw Valley, operating at opposite ends fo the Sierra Nevada, also remain open.
The weather service is forecasting as much as 0.04 inches on Wednesday, 0.02 inches on Thursday and 0.04 on Friday. That would leave spring 2019 in second place and forestall the need for anyone to water their lawns for at least several more days.
Here are the five rainiest springs on record in Salt Lake City:
2011 • 11.73 inches.
2019 • 10.89 inches.
1876 • 10.39 inches.
1986 • 10.26 inches.
1944 • 10.24 inches.
Temperatures are expected to rise over the next few days, from a high of 61 on Monday to 68 on Tuesday; 73 on Wednesday; 74 on Thursday; and 74 on Friday.