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February storms bring above-average snowpack to Salt River watershed

All of the precipitation Arizona has had in the last couple weeks has resulted in above-average snowpack in the Salt River’s watershed. 

In a snowpack survey near Happy Jack this week, a team from Salt River Project measured snow that was 30 inches deep. SRP meteorologist Bo Svoma said that's well above normal. 

"It was incredible that the snowpack was that much above average, especially considering that the winter had been pretty darn dry all the way up until mid-January, so we caught up and then some," Svoma said. "Even if the snow starts melting now and we don’t get any more, we’ve already peaked higher than we do in most years."

Svoma said the snow also appeared to be widespread in areas above 6,000 feet in elevation.

"That’s really the most impressive part — 100% snow coverage and very deep over a large portion of the watershed,” Svoma said. 

Svoma said the deep snowpack will mean another year of healthy reservoir levels on the Salt River. He said four out of the last seven winters in the Salt River watershed have now been average or wet, which is a good sign after decades of drought.

But, Svoma noted most Valley cities depend on a mix of water sources including the Salt River, the Colorado River and groundwater. So the long-term drought conditions affecting the Southwest are still a concern.

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Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent reporting on a variety of issues, including public health and climate change.