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Wet year fills Utah’s reservoirs

SHARE Wet year fills Utah’s reservoirs

A wet water year has left Utah's reservoirs brimming and its stream flows high.

The year came to a close Wednesday with most of Utah recording precipitation totals well above average."We live in a desert, and we're not used to getting a lot of water," said LeRoy Hooton Jr., director of Salt Lake City public utilities. "So when we do get more than the usual amounts of water, it does have an impact."

Much of it was due to El Nino. The plentiful warm-water storms in the central Pacific sent a strong southern jet stream and wet weather Utah's way, according to William Alder, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

Northern Utah had heavy storms during the spring and early summer, while southern Utah saw activity late in the summer.

The weather station at Salt Lake City International Airport usually gets about 16 inches of rain. This year it received 24.30 inches, which ties the third-wettest-water-year record. 1981-82 was the wettest water year at 25.15 inches.

There were some dry spots in the state, though. Southeastern Utah is in its eighth month of drought, according to Donald T. Jensen, state climatologist.

Jensen said that area could have a problem if some La Nina predictions are correct and the area has a dry winter. "That puts an extra burden on that southeastern corner that's already dry."

But overall, rainfall totals have left Utah a cushion in the event of a sub-par winter.

"The reservoirs are in real good shape going into the fall," Alder said "It's always nice to have a wet year in case we have a dry year."