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John Wheeler, WDAY, Published February 05 2013

Weather Talk: Snow rarely makes impact big enough to ease drought

A week ago last Monday, the first snowstorm of the winter dumped 5.4 inches of snow on Fargo-Moorhead. The moisture content of the snow was 0.56 inch. It is satisfactory to see the snow depth increase to 8 inches because of the ongoing drought. However, winter snow rarely has any significant impact on drought conditions because there just is not usually enough water in the winter snow to make much of a difference.

Our total snowfall for the season is now approximately 25 inches, which is about 8 inches below average (to date). Total melted precipitation since Nov. 1 is just a tad over 2 inches. In spring, most of this water will run off over frozen ground into the Red River and have little effect on the soil. Only in extremely wet winters in which spring flooding fills up sloughs and reservoirs can winter snow make a big impact on drought. For drought conditions to be relaxed, it will require spring and summer rainfall.

In the meantime, we can enjoy the winter snow without guilt as there is little reason to fear spring flooding.

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