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Heavy snow doesn’t mean drought ending

Published 6:32am Sunday, March 17, 2013

This winter has been much snowier than last year’s, which is good news for drought stricken soils, almost.

Precipitation to date is only teasing the ground’s thirst, and far from quenching it. According to the National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wis. The drought, which officially began in August 2011, remains in full swing. Since that time until now, the region should have received at least 50 inches of rain, according to the NWS. However, it has only received 30.4 inches.

This March is much snowier than last year’s, at 9.4 inches compared to just 0.1. Furthermore, there has been a lot more snowfall from January to mid-March this year — 21.3 inches compared to 12.6 in 2012. However, the actual liquid amount is fairly close at 3.88 inches compared to 3.08 inches in 2012.

For those who are sick of the snow, though, Weather Service officials don’t expect much more in the next week.

“We’re not anticipating any significant snow in the next week or so,” said Weather Service meteorologist Zack Taylor.

Much of the Midwest remains in severe to extreme drought, just below the highest rating of exceptional drought, which blankets Nebraska, Kansas and parts of Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The southwestern portion of Mower County is in extreme drought, according to the same scale, which was released on Thursday.

The ground remains frozen with deep frost, so recent snowmelt has pooled in fields, re-frozen or ran into rivers and washed away.

The Climate Prediction Center says drought conditions could improve as spring moves on; however, above-normal temperatures this summer could later intensify the drought, as well.

Snowfall by month this winter:

December: 11.5 inches
January: 2.4 inches
February: 9.5 inches
March thus far: 9.4 inches
Total snowfall this winter: 32.8 inches