Winter weather greets summer students

By By Andrew Huffaker

By Andrew Huffaker

This season’s wet weather created ideal conditions for snowboarders and skiers, and now for kayakers.

“There’s almost too much water,” Charlie Butler of Wasatch Touring said. “It’s only this time of year that the lower stretch of the Weber really has water because as spring gets a little further on they start irrigating and they drop most of the water out of the Weber before it gets down into the Valley.”

Last week brought almost two feet of snow to Little Cottonwood Canyon. Snowbird opened for skiing and snowboarding on Thursday and Friday. They will continue to be open Saturday and Sundays through May and will also be open for skiing from the tram on Memorial Day. Those looking forward to camping trips to the Uintas will need to be patient.

“In terms of access to backcountry areas in the Uintas and those kind of things this is going to be back to more normal conditions where last year you could hike to high elevation very early in the year,” University of Utah Professor of Meteorology John Horel said.

And if it seemed wetter than usual last month, it’s because it was.

Salt Lake City had 3.15 inches of rain-that’s 156 percent of normal, and in Provo, BYU students were rained on 169 percent more than normal during the month of April.

Sophomore Michael Ewanowski is most concerned with the rain’s effect on his commute.

“I usually ride my bike to work or my long board, but lately I’ve been getting a ride,” Ewanowski said.

The rain has brought with it questions about whether or not the drought is finally over as well as concerns about potential flooding. While local meteorologists seem relatively confident the drought is a thing of the past, speculation about the effects of so much precipitation is less clear.

With so much moisture, many have been left wondering if this year could end up like 1983 when floods from City Creek turned State Street into a raging river.

Horel said there was no reason for concern.

“The one major difference was they still had a lot of snow at low and mid elevations of the mountains,” Horel said.

He explained why large-scale flooding is not likely.

“There’s still not that big snow pack way, way down low on the mountains and that’s what it would take in order to really get something like that to happen again,” Horel said.

By this time in 1983, Parley’s summit was still covered by more than 6 feet of snow. Currently, there is fewer than 6 inches of snow covering most of the summit.

“Right now with these kind of conditions the hydrologists are mainly concerned about small stream flooding, which is direct from individual storms and melting in small areas,” Horel said. “As you get into later in May and early in June, that’s sort of the peak of the runoff for the bigger rivers,” he said.

In the spring of 1983 the snow pack in the Wasatch Mountains was still almost 500 percent of normal. This year, the snow pack is less than 200 percent above normal.

Many older students and professors who remember the flooding of 1983 are concerned.

Other students have been enjoying the wet weather.

“I like the rain, I walk in it…maybe that’s why I’m sick, but I like it,” said U student Jackie Ledbetter.

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