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Temperate fall weather no good for snowpack

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah residents can expect temperatures this week in the mid-60s under mostly sunny skies that encourage getting outside to enjoy the fall season.

But this dry start to November does not bode well for building up the state's water supplies.

"Every day we see blue skies and sunshine is another day of missed precipitation and the ability to put a lot of snow in the mountains," said Brian McInerney, hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City.

October ended with temperatures about 5.5 degrees above what is average over a 30-year record, McInerney said, and November is starting out with the same, warm blast.

"We are hoping for a major pattern shift," he said. "We have not seen it yet, but we are still early in the season."

It's impossible to say what will play out in the coming months with any degree of certainty, McInerney said, but Utahns should be wishing for a change from the past five years — when a high-pressure ridge was parked over the state.

That ridge sent storms in an arch that bypassed the state, leaving it wanting for robust storms that could shape an abundant snowpack.

"We don't want to see that weather pattern," he said. "We are still in the game. It is still early."

While there have been recent storms that delivered a bit of snow to higher elevations, the mild weather has resulted in a rapid melt along the Wasatch Front.

The Bear River Basin has been the only part of Utah to see above average precipitation since Oct. 1, the beginning of the water year.

The Old Farmer's Almanac, founded in 1792, released an annual weather summary for the Intermountain region that includes northern Utah. It predicts this winter will feature above-normal temperatures, with precipitation that is a bit below normal.

Its regional forecast also said that the snowiest periods will be in late November, early and mid-December and mid-January.

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