Latest Snowfalls Do Little to Ease Drought. - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Latest Snowfalls Do Little to Ease Drought.

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By Ron Marasco


You might think more than a foot of snow over the last five days would make a dent in our drought situation?  Not so!  That equals just an inch of water.
"Yea, it doesn't make a big difference, especially given our drought situation," says Jim Lee of the National Weather Service in Johnston.
"It's certainly better than nothing, but our concerns are for really later on in the spring and summer", said Des Moines Waterworks General Manager and CEO Bill Stowe.

Who knew?  Most of this snow will melt and run off into the rivers and streams where Des Moines waterworks pulls from.  However...

"It's not a high-need time for us in terms of water demand," said Stowe.

There's one other problem.

"Almost all of the snow fell across the southeastern half of the state," said Lee.  "So are far as the Des Moines Metro is concerned, when that does work it's way into the rivers, it will all be down river, as opposed to being upriver and filling up the reservoirs."

In 2013 we're about an inch of precipitation above normal.  Sounds good until you hear the last two years put us 10-12 inches behind.
"They (droughts) take months or years to either develop or ease, so individual storms and rainfall events are not really going to break the drought," said Lee.

That sounds depressing!

"People call them slow-motion disasters," said Lee.

We're also subsoil deficient.  That's the level below the topsoil.  Crops pulled a lot of the moisture out of the subsoil last summer because the topsoil was dry.  That compounds the problem.

"We'll take this and be thankful, but still have an eye towards a greater prize," said Stowe.
Bill Stowe also says the drought outlook for spring and summer aren't particularly positive, so Metro residents better gear up for another year of water conservation.


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