Even with winter storm drought conditions persist - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Even with winter storm drought conditions persist


Minn. (KTTC) -- It may be hard to believe as March comes in like a lion but all this snow is what's needed as we move through the seasons.

In a short time we'll see snow covered fields become fertile cropland ready for spring planting.

Farmer Rick Lutzi says, "Right now we were at 60 percent moisture and this year we're at 30 percent moisture going into the season."

Frozen golf courses become the land of those coveted lush greens a place where summer time stands still for awhile.

Rochester's Park & Recreation's Leif Erickson says, "This is slow release moisture for us. This is exactly what we needed for our golf courses. I'd say 90% of this will probably be beneficial to us. The rest will probably be run-off."

And bare gardens become row after row of full-bloom symbols of the season.

Dawn Rohl of Aspelund Peony Gardens says, "This is good because it's keeping them covered and they're protected and it looks like spring might come at a normal time this year."

A successful warm season is somewhat dependent on mother nature's cooperation when it comes to snowfall and of course the thaw.

Erickson explains, "As it begins to melt through our air temperatures and through soil temperatures from below. We get this fissures, this freeze thaw action and these fissures allow a lot of moisture to enter into the soil."

As the drought worsened last year work proved difficult.

Rohl says, "It was back-breaking. It was very slow and the roots were really dry and we were a little concerned with how they were going to make it in others people's gardens this winter."

Even this latest round of March snow isn't expected to melt the drought but that won't stop the work.

Lutzi says, "We're getting ready to plant corn just like we normally would normally plant corn and hoping that mother nature works with us."

More than 70 percent of the state is still in severe to extreme drought. Southeastern Minnesota is no exception. Austin falls into that extreme category with a deficit of more than 21 inches. Rochester is in the severe category with a deficit of more than 16 inches.

Winona is considered to be only in moderate drought but we're talking about deficits that still top 12 inches.

It takes about 10 inches of snow to get the equivalent of one inch of rain meaning even a significant winter storm won't be enough to end the drought.

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