Weather patterns and data for the month of April have climatologists describing the past 30 days across the state as "normal."
A closer look reveals 31 high-temperature records set in 25 cities over a summer-esque two-day period; storms that pushed water levels in four areas to more than 125 percent of normal; and a parched dry spell in southeastern Utah where traces of moisture had to be measured by the one-hundredeths of an inch."About as normal as an April as you can get," said William Alder, lead meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "Precipitation was 104 percent of normal and temperatures were a tad above normal."
But there were a few quirks with last month's apparent averageness.
Like a series of storms between April 16-20 that moved through northern Utah producing rain, lightning and heavy, wet snow that dumped inches all over the state.
In fact, lightning struck twice at the Salt Lake International Airport, hitting a B757 and B727 a day apart from each other as they departed Utah. There were no injuries or significant damage.
But skiers and other winter recreationists relished the late-season squalls, as almost 56 inches were reported at the Alta lifts, Brighton recorded 56 inches and Park City got 43 inches.
Yet state meteorologist Donald T. Jensen said the April weather was not helpful as far as water was concerned for any part of southern Utah. The region is currently in the grip of drought that began last October and has no immediate end in sight.
"It's going to be a tough summer for the (farmers) down there," Jensen said from his Logan office at Utah State University. "Their snowpack was gone in March."
Jensen, director of the Utah Climate Center at USU, said snow levels should have remained high on the La Sal Mountains east of Moab, but the dry, warm weather patterns produced precipitation amounts that were only recorded in the single digits.
Escalante came in at 4 percent of normal, while Capitol Reef and Hanksville received only 0.05 of an inch, or 9 percent and 12 percent of normal, respectively.
"With those figures, no it is not what we're used to," Jensen said. "The region is not only dry, but very dry, and it continues through to southern Colorado into parts of western Kansas."
Jensen said the northern mountains of Utah up into Idaho remain at median figures, but travel to central Utah County and the moisture amounts begin to slip.
"Beginning near Nephi, getting to Monticello, Hanksville, San Juan; all the reservoirs are low," he said.
The dry spell is in its cyclical onset, and the storms that hit late in the month had no effect on southeastern Utah, Jensen said.
Precipitation measurements across Utah for April 1996 (all amounts in inches):
Precip. Percent of
ALTA 8.89 146
PINEVIEW DAM 4.00 129
COTTONWOOD 2.80 128
HEBER CITY 1.72 125
SNOWBIRD 7.13 124
ESCALANTE 0.02 4
CAPITOL REEF 0.05 9
HANKSVILLE 0.05 12
ROOSEVELT 0.08 13
WENDOVER 0.09 16
Record high and low temperatures in Salt Lake City:
High: 83 on April 9
Low: 30 on April 14
SOURCE: NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE