SALT LAKE CITY — It was a year of weather extremes across the state. From dire drought conditions and record heat to extensive flash flooding under torrential rainfall. Utah experienced a variety of weather to make 2021 a memorable year. Here is how we ranked the Top 5 weather related events for 2021.
#5. FATAL AVALANCHES
Due to sporadic snowfall during the winter months of 2021, conditions became ripe for high avalanche danger throughout the winter season. Six deaths were reported for 2021 with four of those fatalities occuring under a single event up in Millcreek Canyon. This is occurred on Febuary 6, 2021. The accident is among the worst in state history.
#4 SMOKE FROM WILDFIRES.
For several weeks during July through September, the state experienced poor air quality from the infiltration of smoke due to the wildfires burning in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. On August 6, 2021, the air quality was so poor in Salt Lake City that the city was in the top rankings of the worst air quality for that day in the world.
#3 RIDING ON A HEAT WAVE
The summer of 2021 — which the National Weather Service defines as June, July, and August — tied as the hottest ever in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Overall, the NWS of Salt Lake City reported that the average daily high came in at 80.9 degrees. However, July soared past that with an average high of 85.7 which is the hottest since record-keeping began in 1874.
In addition, Salt Lake City tied the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded in SLC on June 15, 2021. The National Weather Service tweeted that it was 107 degrees at Salt Lake City International Airport at 5:43 p.m. The previous recorded hottest temperature for Salt Lake City was 107 degrees in July in 2002 and 1960. The previous record for June was 105 degrees in 2013.
“We just [officially] hit a temperature NEVER before seen in the month of June at Salt Lake City [in] all 147 years of records,” said the NWS earlier in the day, when the temperature hit 106.
Another record was broken when Salt Lake City reached its earliest 100 degree day on June 4, 2021.
#2 MONSTER MONSOON SEASON
Typically, during the summer months, the state of Utah experiences monsoon moisture moving up from the southeast. This provides the development of thunderstorms that can produce significant rainfall and flash flooding across central and southern Utah. The summer of 2021 monsoon season will be one for the history books. Some notable events.
June 29, 2021 – Zion National Park
With over 1.5 inches of rain in a short period of time, flash flooding occurred within the park causing extensive damage. In addition, the flooding stranded visitors on hiking trails and in several cars.
September 1, 2021- Hanksville Flash Flood
The National Weather Service reported that almost an inch of rain fell on Hanksville and that 1.39 inches fell on Capitol Reef National Park, which is about 30 miles west of the town.
There was flooding along the Fremont River in Wayne County, and Hanksville got the worst of it — as much as 6 feet of water, according to the National Weather Service.
Several businesses and farms were damaged with replacement costs valued at several hundreds of thousands of dollars.
August 1, 2021 Enoch Flash Flooding
Torrential rainfall was experienced on that date with over two inches of rain falling within a short period of time. The area was already saturated with previous storms through the week. The flooding caused damage to over 200 homes as water filled their basements. Several fields were damaged as well.
#1 DISMAL DROUGHT FOR UTAH
Through 2021, Utah remained under a drought with conditions at their worst during July. 75% of the state was under extreme or exceptional drought conditions at that time. Reservoirs throughout the state were at 30-60% of capacity. The Great Salt Lake saw its lowest level on record and Lake Powell experienced levels not seen it over decades. Governor Spencer Cox issued three official declarations of drought to help residents understand the dire circumstances and be more mindful of water usage.