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Snow & Rain Provide Little Drought Relief

December 17, 2012, 5:21 PM by Ben Cathey

Snow & Rain Provide Little Drought Relief

Even after heavier snow north of Sioux Falls arrived earlier in the month, the Big Sioux River only saw a brief bump in water levels.  Gauges on local creeks rose just three inches.  Ice is building on many of our streams and the Falls are soon to freeze. 

This comes at the same time that our ground traditionally freezes over.  During the past week, the soil temperature for most of KELOLAND stayed just below freezing.  So even with isolated snowfalls last week nearing a foot, less than an inch of moisture actually absorbed into the ground.  The rest becomes limited runoff, or evaporates after just a few warmer hours.  Much of it still sits on the surface but doesn't soak in.   That's why farmers and gardeners alike prefer moisture towards the end of winter, after the soil thaws. 

December is usually one of our driest months.  The rains on Saturday not only broke a daily record for moisture but also came close to totaling our monthly average.  This weekend, the soil was just slightly warmer, which allowed moisture to seep into your garden's soil.  And over the next few days, we could put a dent in our drought just a bit more.

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