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John Wheeler: If the spring is dry, our region faces drought

Most of our region went into winter somewhat dry and we should expect that most of the water in the snow will be wasted.

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FARGO — With the exception on northeastern Minnesota, most of the Dakotas and Minnesota have a drier than average deep moisture profile and are at risk of drought should spring weather turn out to be dry. It may seem a little strange to be thinking about spring and summer drought during the middle of winter, especially when so much of the region is blanketed in significant snow. However, winter snow is relatively light on water content compared to typical summer precipitation.

Most of our region went into winter somewhat dry, and we should expect that most of the water in the snow will be wasted. Spring runoff happens quickly, and only the top few inches of soil become saturated. Most of snow melt water flows downstream. After the snow melt, spring and early summer thunderstorms will be required to recharge the soil moisture. If spring rainfall is scant, our region is at risk for drought.

Related Topics: WEATHER
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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