Utah governor asks residents to pray for rain to combat a severe drought

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during his monthly news conference in Salt Lake City.
In this March 18, 2021, file photo, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during his monthly news conference in Salt Lake City.

  • Gov. Spencer Cox asked for Utahns to engage in a “weekend of prayer” to combat the state’s drought.
  • “We need more rain, and we need it now,” he said. “We need some divine intervention.”
  • According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, the entire state is deemed “abnormally dry.”
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GOP Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah on Thursday asked state residents to engage in a “weekend of prayer” for rain amid a severe drought.

Cox’s request came after he declared a state of emergency last month. The entire state is considered to be “abnormally dry,” with 90.2 percent of Utah undergoing an “extreme drought” and 62.2 percent of the state experiencing an “exceptional drought,” according to the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Under such conditions, there is an increased risk of fire danger and native vegetation is adversely impacted.

“By praying collaboratively and collectively, asking God or whatever higher power you believe in, for more rain, we may be able to escape the deadliest aspects of the continuing drought,” he said in a video. “Please join me and Utahns, regardless of religious affiliation, in a weekend of humble prayer for rain.”

Cox detailed the measures that he’s already promoted to prevent a strain on existing water reserves but was frank in his assessment of the lack of moisture throughout the state.

“I’ve already asked all Utahns to conserve water by avoiding long showers, fixing leaky faucets, and planting water-wise landscapes,” he said in a press statement. “But I fear those efforts alone won’t be enough to protect us.”

He added: “We need more rain, and we need it now. We need some divine intervention.”

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On Thursday, the National Weather Service in Utah advised of “excessive heat” across much of the state through Saturday evening.

Last month, Cox signed an executive order prohibiting state agencies from watering during the warmest times of the day, roughly between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Glen Merrill, the hydrologist at the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City, told The Washington Post that about 95% of Utah’s water supply originates from melting snowpack in higher elevations.

This year, the “reduced snow cover” generated less water, which was absorbed by the dry soil.

“It didn’t make it into the channels and streams,” he told The Post. “The forecast for [stream] volume through July is about 25 to 40 percent of normal.”

Merrill added that the drought came on in 2019 and accelerated last summer, advancing across the state.

“[The drought] even spread all the way into the beginning of our cool season [in 2020],” he told The Post. “It’s rare to see that.”

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