Great Salt Lake rises by two feet since historic low

Officials say the rise is a direct result of recent precipitation and inflows into the lake.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Dropping lake levels on the Great Salt Lake, along the north side of Antelope Island, continue to expose more reef-like structures called microbialites on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023.

The Great Salt Lake is already the beneficiary of the epic snowfall totals gathered around the state this winter.

According to the Utah Department of Natural Resources, the lake has already risen two feet since its historic low set last November. Officials say the rise is a direct result of recent precipitation and inflows into the lake.

As a comparison, the Great Salt Lake barely rose a foot all of last year.

The news is a welcome relief coming before the spring runoff has even begun, although the concern of flooding persists once the snow begins to melt.

“We want a gradual melt-off during the spring that will not overwhelm our rivers and streams,” said Candice Hasenyager, director of the Division of Water Resources. “The way our snowpack melts is something our division and the Utah Division of Emergency Management is monitoring closely.”

Other state departments are working to minimize flood risks at all levels.

At measuring sites across the state, new records for snow water equivalent are being set. At the beginning of March, 10 sites had already reported a record-high amount of snow water equivalent, and seven others had measured the second-highest levels.

Just over half of Utah’s 47 reservoirs are below 55%, which the department says is nearly the same as last year but about 10% lower than normal for this time of year. Approximately half of the measured streams are also flowing below normal.

This article is published through the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, a solutions journalism initiative that partners news, education and media organizations to help inform people about the plight of the Great Salt Lake—and what can be done to make a difference before it is too late. Read all of our stories at greatsaltlakenews.org.