Great Salt Lake Water Level

June 02, 2011

Gslbison822_11may11 (2)

Photographer: Ray Boren
Summary Author: Ray Boren

This solitary American bison (Bison bison) is enticed by a tuft of new grass growing on a hummock on the otherwise barren lakebed of Utah’s Great Salt Lake. The surface water level in the Great Salt Lake has been in decline after a serious drought during the past decade. However, both this past winter and early spring have been snowy and rainy in Utah. The amount of water measured when a snowpack completely melts is called the snow water equivalent (SWE). In late April this year the Utah statewide SWE was 150 percent above the 30-year average. In the Provo-Utah-Jordan River Basin, the SWE was 234 percent of normal as May began, as reported by the Utah Climate Center at Utah State University. In fact, runoff has been causing localized flooding in the Salt Lake City area and along the populous Wasatch Front.

A substantial herd of bison thrives on Antelope Island, the largest island in the Great Salt Lake. The lake’s margins have greatly shrunk over the past few years, but bays have now begun to fill with water again, and large mid-lake ponds are forming, as seen above. The view here is toward the east and the suburbs north of Salt Lake City, which are in the blue pall of a localized rain shower. Also obscured by the shower is the still snow-laden Wasatch Range. Photo taken on May 11, 2011.

Photo Details: Camera: NIKON D60; Focal Length: 220.0mm; Aperture: f/10.0; Exposure Time: 0.0040 s (1/250); ISO equiv: 110.