St. George is experiencing a rare “dream year” for rainfall in the desert of southwestern Utah

It’s something you don’t hear very often when you live in the desert, but it was a good year for the water in southwest Utah.

St. George just broke the all-time record for the most rainfall in a water year, which is measured from the beginning of October through the end of September.

The city has received 15.79 inches of rain since Oct. 1 of last year — or nearly double its historical average of 8.04 inches. This year set a new record in the weather archives dating back to 1893 and broke the city’s previous record of 15.77 inches set in 1932.

The two main factors that led to this record year were Utah, said John Cecava, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City. Exceptionally wet winter And the last rains of the monsoon Tropical storms.

“The way the storms are moving, they’ve settled their way into St. George and southwestern Utah.”

It’s come down to four particularly rainy months: January, March, August and September.

St. George had its fourth wettest January on record with 3.15 inches of rain. This was followed by the city’s third-wettest March with another 3.85 inches.

“While snow was falling in most locations, those at lower elevations saw heavy rainfall,” Sikava said. “Southern Utah as a whole has seen a lot of rain.”

After a late start to the monsoon season, the summer rains came in force.

In August, St. George fell into the path of both Hurricane Hillary from the Pacific, an unprecedented storm that fueled it El Niño and human-caused climate change – And Tropical Storm Harold from the Gulf of Mexico. However, August was not so exceptional, in fact it was the 20th wettest month on record in St. George with 1.57 inches. But September has made up for it so far.

During the first three days of the month, 3.83 inches of rain fell. That means St. George has nearly broken the record for the wettest September on record — 4.16 inches since 1939 — and the month isn’t even halfway through.

The rest of Utah also set some records this summer. Salt Lake City and Logan both had their fifth wettest August. For places like Cedar City and Navy, August precipitation totals ended up being among the 20 wettest places on record.

Since southwestern Utah is typically one of the driest areas in the state, all that extra water has forced the area to dry out Washington County Water Conservancy District to adapt its approach. Instead of trying to squeeze every last drop from the meager rain that usually falls, manager Zach Renstrom said his job turned to finding more ways to preserve this year’s abundant water for the future.

At this time of year the city’s water tanks are usually running low after a full summer of drainage for drinking and irrigation purposes.

But right now, our stock is more than 90% water, which is not happening. “It’s a rare event.”

The extra rain has helped St. George provide more treated water as well, as residents and farmers have more opportunities to turn off irrigation. Water use is down 8% from last year, even though the number of water connections in the city has increased by 4%, Renstrom said.

While there were isolated floods that affected Paths And Roadswet weather arrived slowly and steadily enough that it miraculously filled St. George’s reservoirs without threatening to sweep out residents’ homes.

“From a water management standpoint, this was the best we could have ever asked for, because we got the amount of water we desperately needed, but we didn’t have any major flooding, which is critical,” Renstrom said. A rare case in the desert.”

Even with a wet year, St. George can’t afford to ease up on its conservation efforts, including its large collection of trees, he said. Wastewater recycling plan And discounts For residents to remove irrigated lawns and install low-flow toilets.

But for now, being at the top of the rainfall records is a good place to be.

“This is going to be a dream year,” Renstrom said. “The bad thing is we’re going to be comparing all future water years to this year, and I don’t think I’ll ever see another water year like this in my career.”

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