Great Salt Lake hits record high


SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake City was once about 10 miles east of the Great Salt Lake. But, with the lake pushing toward its highest level in recorded history, some city suburbs are verging on becoming lakefront property.

'The Great Salt Lake's surface today is estimated to be near its historic high of 4,211.6 feet above mean sea level,' Bill Alder, National Weather Service chief Utah meteorologist, said Friday.


And Ralph Hatch of the service's Colorado Basin River Forecast Center said the lake will probably rise another foot by June.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimated the lake reached 4,211.6 feet above sea level in 1873, 26 years after Mormon pioneers settled in the valley.

It was not that high between 1847 and 1873. And, until Friday, it has not been that high in the past 113 years.

'Humongous amounts of precipitation in the past week, up to 200 percent of normal for the entire month of May, has inundated the central portions of Utah's Wasatch Front' from Provo north to the Utah-Idaho state line, Alder said.

Since the fall of 1982, when the current wet cycle began drenching Utah, the lake's surface elevation has risen 12 feet, spreading out over an additional 14.7 million acres of land and causing more than $100 million in damage to shoreline wildlife refuges, industries, roads and agriculture lands.


'To think of that another way, there is about 6.7 million gallons of water in the lake for every resident of the state,' said Alder.

Hatch said the lake is growing more radidly than expected because of the recent heavy precipitation and the cool April and May temperatures that have reduced evaporation, adding the lake's surface will probably reach 4,212.5 feet above sea level this summer.

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