A Promising Winter in Peoa, Utah

December 22, 2023

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Photographer: Ray Boren

Summary Author: Ray Boren

Fresh snow prettily blankets a conjunction of old farmsteads in this photograph, taken on December 16, 2022, along a tributary creek flowing toward the Weber River in Peoa, a rural hamlet near the better-known ski resort community of Park City, Utah. The snow was a harbinger of things to come, for the winter of 2022-2023 turned out to be a drought-buster in the state, and in much of the American West. Area residents and water managers are hoping the current water year will prove bountiful as well.

Prolonged drought has persisted in much of the region for most of the past 20 years, with decreased snowpack, an increased wildfire risk, and water shortages, resulting in unfilled reservoirs, lower crop yields, and endangered habitats and resources, such as the depleted Great Salt Lake. In 2022, 95 percent of Utah was in severe drought; by this past October, only 7 percent of the state was in even moderate drought, according to the Utah Department of Natural Resources. Utah’s snowpack peaked at 216 percent of normal in April 2023, an all-time high based on measurements that began a century ago, according to the state’s Division of Water Resources. The water year, which spans from October 1st through the succeeding September, ended with accumulated precipitation at 136 percent of normal.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says another wet winter may be on tap for a central swath of the West, as an El Niño pattern has been developing in the Pacific Ocean. The phenomenon raises ocean water temperatures, which can — though unpredictably — in turn produce wetter winters in portions of western North America.


Peoa, Utah Coordinates: 40.7252, -111.3418

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