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January 01, 2013 06:18 PM

Cold Temps Help Snow, Moisture Stick Around

Recent snow has left a coating of white.  But will that snow help the long-term drought conditions across the plains? 

Several snow storms have criss-crossed the Midwest and plains over the past 30 days, leaving behind a trail of beneficial snow.  Much of the early snow melted, but recent snow over the past two weeks has lingered with this recent cold snap.

Current snow depths range from one to two inches across the prairies of western South Dakota, to an average of three to six inches in eastern KELOLAND.  There are exceptions to those ranges, however.  Northern Meade county in the west has eight inches.  The deepest snow cover extends from Clear Lake east into west central Minnesota, where nine inches or more is still on the ground. Those same areas also have by far the most water in the snow, with current estimates of one to two inches of moisture.

Snow storms have affected the Rockies too, which is important for the Missouri River headwaters.  The latest analysis shows near normal snow depths above Fort Peck. 

With a January thaw in sight across the plains, a portion of the snow we have now will melt.  That leaves the heart of winter still ahead of us with future storm tracks proving critical to Spring runoff.  That will also provide us clues about the future of the drought into the new year.

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