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Rain, snow get water year off to a welcome wet start

Christian Borja, 6, Jennifer Borja and Esther Borja, right, brave wet weather to attend LDS conference.
Christian Borja, 6, Jennifer Borja and Esther Borja, right, brave wet weather to attend LDS conference.
August Miller, Deseret Morning News

Utah's new water year that began Oct. 1 got a good boost Saturday with plenty of rain in the valleys and snow on the benches and higher elevations in the northern and central parts of the state.

The wet weather also contributed to a little mayhem on the highway in northern Utah County near Lehi where hail began to fall. In a short midmorning span of time, there were eight accidents along I-15, all resulting in only minor injuries, Utah Highway Patrol trooper Cameron Roden said. One of the accidents involved a bus full of high school band members, but no one was hurt.

Still, the steady rain was a welcome presence after ending a water year last month about 6 inches below normal, according to Brandon Smith, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City. Smith said Utah should get about 16.5 inches of water in a normal year.

In 2006, Utah's water total was slightly below normal, and in 2005 it was only just above normal. For five years prior to 2005, Utah suffered from droughtlike conditions.

"We didn't really make up any deficits, but we didn't increase the deficit," Smith said regarding 2005 and 2006.

A low snow pack this year, he noted, will be cause for concern. Smith did a quick check of ski resorts and noticed some had seen 3 to 6 inches of snow from this weekend's weather.

Smith said Saturday's "decent-size" storm moved in Friday afternoon with a little rain ahead of a cold front that on Saturday resulted in highs along the Wasatch Front of only around 43 degrees, which was about 26 degrees below normal. By late Saturday afternoon, places like Ogden saw nearly 2 inches of rainfall, while nearly a half inch was recorded in Salt Lake City.

Today is expected to start out cloudy, but the sun should show throughout the day and temperatures may reach the low 50s for a high. Smith predicted mostly sunny conditions by Monday with highs in the 60s, and then by midweek the mercury should be back into the low 70s. The next storm, he said, may "brush" northern Utah on Thursday.