The blanket of snow covering much of the Great Plains after two big storms in less than a week may provide some relief for parched areas, but it’s no “drought-buster,” experts said Tuesday.
The snow may help ease the drought some, but it’s unlikely to have a big impact because it’s sitting largely on frozen ground, especially in the upper Plains. As snow on the surface melts, the water is likely to run off into rivers and streams instead of soaking into the rock-hard ground.
That’s good news for those who depend on the many rivers and lakes that are near historic lows because of the drought. But it does little to help farmers who need the moisture to soak into the soil so they can grow plants, said Brian Fuchs, of the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Neb.
“It’s welcome relief, and maybe it’s going to start trending us in a positive way,” Fuchs said of the snow. “But it’s not the drought-buster that some would hope.”
Even if all the snow melted straight into the ground, it wouldn’t break the drought. A foot of snow equals roughly an inch of rain, and parts of the Plains are roughly 20 inches short of precipitation, even after the storms, Fuchs said.