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How Will The Snow Help Drought Conditions?



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With much of South Dakota in at least a severe drought, the falling snow is getting a big welcome. But will this first blizzard actually make a difference? KDLT sat down with a meteorologist with the National Weather Service to find out.

Soil moisture, which is important for farmers, is about 10 to 15 percent in southern towns like Beresford. And this blizzard seems to be missing those southern areas in need.

"Farmers are going to have a heck of a time if its that dry, four feet deep,” said Kyle Weisser, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

It may be precipitation but in South Dakota, it typically takes more than 10 inches of snow to equal one inch of rain. And rain is what many parts of South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa have lacked all season.

“I-90 south into Nebraska is really what they are calling the D4 drought, which is almost the most extreme type of drought,” said Weisser.

So with the season’s first blizzard at hand, it seemed only fair to ask will this fluffy white stuff help with the drought?

“Unfortunately one event like this is not a drought buster. We'd need several more to come out of that drought,” said Weisser.

Kyle Weisser is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls. HE said to couple the snow falling further north, the snow we have now could melt right into rivers because the ground is frozen.

And that wouldn’t do a whole lot for the already dry farmlands.  
 
“What we would really need, that I think some people are looking for, is a cold snowy winter,” said Weisser. “Maybe build a two, three foot snow pack, and that will all gradually melt in the spring.”

Weisser said that would be the ideal scenario to help start the spring off in the right direction. And as of Sunday, there was another storm potentially heading this way.

"We've got low pressure developing on the west coast. And there's by Friday afternoon, Saturday, that low pressure is lifting out of the central plains,” said Weisser.

And it’s keeping him optimistic about what might come next.
 
Sioux Falls and the surrounding area has never had back-to-back winters with less than 20 inches of snow. Last year, Weisser said we had 16.5 inches. A normal snowfall is about 35 to 50 inches for the winter region-wide. Weisser said, if we get that, it could make all the difference.
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