Minnesota Farmer

The forecast is snow

100_1926The forecast is snow, and I’m reluctant to mention it, but is the drought over?

The winter of 2011/2012 went down in history as one of the driest we have experienced.  The school calendar was not interrupted once by a snow storm.  A year ago we had no snow on the ground and much above normal temperatures.  Even two weeks ago we were experiencing some unusually warm temperatures.

As of today we have had several  inches of snow fall with more on the way.  I bought a new walk behind snow blower and have used it twice.  We’ve had a school day that was delayed two hours because of snow and a Sunday afternoon/evening when we were glad we had nowhere to go because of the blowing snow outside.  There have been several mornings where the thermometer has read below zero in the morning, and days where the high was in single digits.  This is looking a bit more like the Minnesota winters I remember.  Yet can we say that the drought has ended in our area.

I remember the 2011 crop year as being dry.  The 2012 crop year started out wet, and yet we were really hurting for soil moisture when the 2012 crop year ended.  Soil moisture levels are really low now.  It is going to take a lot of moisture to get the soil water levels back up.  Perhaps we can start that with some snow.

The problem with snow for soil recharge is that there  really is not a lot of moisture in snow.  An inch of snow yields a tenth of an inch or less of moisture.  Also, snow falls on frozen ground.  Winter snow fall is more likely to run off than to stay put in the soil it falls on.  Leaving the ground rough after fall tillage can help to hold some of the moisture in small pockets, but still very little snow water stays where it falls.  We are going to need some spring rains and timely summer showers to break the drought.

So a few snow flakes do not signal the end of the drought, but it is a hopeful sign.



1 Comment so far
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Hi Michael, The snow has fallen here in Toronto as well after almost a 2 year absence. I just got in after digging out from about 12 centimeters (5 inches) of the white stuff. At least the ground is covered which will help incubate plants that need it to winter over. Hope you get a lot more through the winter so that it translates into a slow spring melt to refurbish the moisture levels in your Minnesota soils. The drought that you have been experiencing (from all the research I have done) is the most significant one of the last 80 years in the Mid-West. For at least the Northern Plain States you may finally see some relief. I have less confidence in seeing it come to an end further south. The low water tables are even impacting navigation on the Mississippi River, something almost unheard of. So here’s to a good end to 2012 and a good start to 2013. All my best,

21st Century Tech Blog

Comment by lenrosen4

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