How Northland snow melts will play role in how MN recovers from drought

By KBJR News 1

February 24, 2014 Updated Feb 24, 2014 at 12:18 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The way in which spring sets into the Northland will also affect how Minnesota recovers, or sinks deeper into, its two year drought crisis.

Currently, 50% of the state is experiencing abnormally dry conditions, while 23% is in a state of moderate drought.

During this time last year, the entire state was abnormally dry, with 97%of Minnesota in a moderate drought, 70% in a severe drought, and 25% facing extreme drought conditions.

While the state's accumulated snowfall this year should help alleviate the drought, Meteorologists say it all depends on how it melts.

Ideally, says Mike Stewart of the National Weather Service, the snow will melt over a gradual period of warming spring temperatures with little additional precipitation.

Heavy rainfall on top of melting snow while the ground is still frozen could result in the snowmelt pouring into our rivers and streams rather than recharging our groundwater.

Once the snow is gone and the ground thawed, Stewart says we could even handle additional drought relief in the form of another round of winter weather.

"...be it snow, hopefully not 50 inches like we got last April," laughed Stewart, "but just some rain [is preferred], so we'll have a good summer growing season."

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Saint Louis, Cook, Lake, and Carlton County are not currently experiencing abnormally dry conditions.

Billy Wagness