Area drought continues

Drought conditions continue to impact San Juan County, with the entire county classified as either in Extreme or Exceptional Drought in early April.

This continues a trend of dryer-than-normal conditions that extend nearly one year.  

Year-to-date precipitation is 64 percent of normal in Blanding, 53 percent of normal in Bluff, and 86 percent of normal in Monticello.

Despite the drought conditions, the winter snowpack in area mountains peaked in recent weeks, with water levels in the high country surprisingly close to normal levels.

For instance, when the amount of water in the snowpack peaked at Camp Jackson on March 26, it contained 11.5 inches of water, which is 95 percent of the normal peak of 12.1 inches.

Since the peak, the amount of water in the snow has dropped and sits at 7.1 inches on April 6.

Camp Jackson is located in the Abajo Mountains west of Monticello and north of Blanding.

Similarly, there was 12.7 inches of water in the snow at the La Sal monitoring station when it peaked on March 27. That represents 104 percent of the average peak of 12.2 inches.

Since the peak, the amount of water in the snow has dropped and sits at 9.5 inches on April 6.

The La Sal monitoring station is at 9,578 feet in altitude north of the community of La Sal.

The peak of the snowpack signals the beginning of the runoff season, which runs from April to July. Area reservoirs are at low levels, as is typical for the end of winter.

According to the southeast Utah analysis completed by Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), soil moisture is at 34 percent of normal compared to 51 percent last year. 

NRCS said that reservoir storage at Kens Lake is 29 percent of capacity, compared to 87 percent last year. 

In addition, the NRCS forecast for streamflow volumes range from 32 percent to 81 percent of average.

One year ago, the snowpack was 130 percent of normal.

San Juan Record

49 South Main St
PO Box 879
Monticello, UT 84535

Phone: 435.587.2277
Fax: 435.587.3377
Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday