Utah’s Great Salt Lake had shrunk by two thirds its original size, the New York Times reported last June. And “It was only three months ago that nearly three dozen scientists and conservationists sounded the alarm that the Great Salt Lake in Utah faces ‘unprecedented danger’,” CNN reports. “Unless the state’s lawmakers fast-tracked ’emergency measures’ to dramatically increase the lake’s inflow by 2024, it would likely disappear in the next five years.”

Now, after an incredible winter full of rain and snow, there is a glimmer of hope on North America’s largest terminal lake, where water levels had fallen to a record-low last fall amid a historic, climate change-fueled drought across the West. As of Thursday, the snowpack in the Great Salt Lake basin was more than double the average for this time of year. All of this winter’s rain and snow that fell directly into the Great Salt Lake increased the water level there by three feet…

In reality, the precipitation only made up for what was lost to last year’s drought and evaporation… To reverse the decline, the Great Salt Lake needs an additional 1 million acre-feet of water — roughly 326 billion gallons — per year, according to the January assessment. Bonnie Baxter, the director of the Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster College and one of the authors of the January report, said the state would “need another five years like this in order to get the system healthy again.”

“If I do the math, we got about three feet of direct precipitation that fell into the lake this year, that is fantastic,” Baxter told CNN. “But the last two years, we also lost 2.8 feet in the summer, and we expect to lose that three feet in the desiccating summer. So now, we’re pretty much even, and that’s not a good place to be.”

Baxter says the rainfall “buys us some time” to work on long-term issues like water rights and metering the water used in agriculture — maybe a year or two — but “We’re not going to be bailed out by excess snow.”

There’s hope melting snow could add more water, but Baxter warns that it might not. “If it melts really quickly, which is probably going to happen because we have these late snows and now we’re right up against warm temperatures, then you get the water just rushing over the land and not taking time to charge the aquifers and just evaporating off the surface.”