For the first time since 2011, Utah is drought-free. But how long will it last?

Monday , March 20, 2017 - 3:29 PM

MAKENZIE KOCH/Standard-Examiner Staff

SALT LAKE CITY — For the first time since 2011, Utah is drought-free

The National Weather Service in Salt Lake City tweeted Sunday that, as of Tuesday, March 14, Utah isn’t showing any drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor

The Drought Monitor — produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Drought Mitigation Center — is based on climate, hydrologic and soil conditions. 

Although it’s been unusually warm in Utah so far this month, the heavy snowfall from winter means the state has a good water supply. The amount of precipitation in January was more than double the average for that time of year.

According to the monitor, 100 percent of Utah is not showing drought conditions. Three months ago, only 29 percent of the state was not showing drought conditions. 

The NWS shared an animation of the Drought Monitor’s map of the West from this time of year in 2011 through 2017. 

In a tweet, the NWS said most of the West has seen drought conditions decrease, and only 15.2 percent of the contiguous U.S. is currently experiencing moderate to extreme drought conditions, according to the NOAA

A seasonal outlook from the National Integrated Drought Information System forecasts that Utah should stay drought-free through at least the end of June. Official projections for the rest of the summer are not available yet. 

But NWS meteorologist Christine Kruse says Utah isn’t in the clear yet. 

“We could have a dry summer; we could have a wet summer. It’s just too soon to tell,” Kruse said. 

Just because the state doesn’t have drought conditions now — and might not for the next few months — doesn’t mean those conditions couldn’t return, she said.

The NWS is still urging Utahns to be judicious with water usage because, whether it’s this summer or the next, those conditions could easily return. 

Contact digital producer Makenzie Koch at mkoch@standard.net, follow her on Twitter at @makenzie_koch or like her on Facebook at facebook.com/MakenzieKochSE

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