Northern California is suffering when it comes to extreme drought conditions, very little snow and a wildfire season predicted to start much earlier.
Last year, more than 2.5 million acres burned in that state, and officials fear it could be as bad this year, if not worse.
An Axios report noted that already this year, the Sacramento office of the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for wildfires.
Like California, Utah’s snowpack is much below average and there have already been water restrictions put into place by some areas of the state.
“It is a drought and just like the rest of the West, we are facing some very low snowpack, our spring runoff is already starting and we have already had a few wildfires that have started,” said Jason Curry, deputy director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources.
Curry added that state fire responders are already in preparation mode.
An active wildfire season in California and other West Coast states delivered nasty health impacts last summer to Utah by choking the air with levels of fine particulate pollution, or PM2.5, traditionally only experienced in the winter months when inversions roll in.
Utah’s 2021 wildfire season got off to an early and rough start, with Gov. Spencer Cox and others pleading with the public to exercise extreme caution.
The message worked, Curry said, with the state experiencing a nearly 80% reduction in human-caused fires in 2021, compared to the year before — despite 2021 going down as the third hottest year on record for Utah.
“It was a huge reduction.”
Utah also experienced record heat this year in late March, when a high temperature of 79 degrees was reached at the Salt Lake City International Airport. That temperature shattered a record that had stood for 127 years. Several other areas of the state also experienced record highs.
Unusually warm temperatures gripped regions of California on April 7, with Acuweather reporting that Long Beach, Burbank, Oxnard and Camarillo all broke the record books that day.
While weather forecasters had hoped for a wet spring to help abate the effects of the “megadrought,” the seasonal outlook into June called for warmer than normal and drier than normal conditions in the West.
A spring snowstorm is expected to move into California, Utah and other parts of the West early this week, but it is not expected to significantly alter the trajectory of the drought.
Valley snow could result in Utah, and the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City predicted some mountainous regions could get up to 15 inches of snow.
Our confidence is increasing for seeing snow in the valleys and significant mountain snowfall early next week, with some uncertainty on the higher snowfall amounts, particularly in the valleys. Monitor the forecast and be prepared for possible winter driving conditions. #utwx pic.twitter.com/1JhTGMf7qx— NWS Salt Lake City (@NWSSaltLakeCity) April 8, 2022
Still, forecasters, wildfire agencies and water managers will take any bit of moisture that lands in these drought-stricken states.
Curry said it would be ideal if Utah could get a series of robust spring storms, stay cool and moist.