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    Wheat Belt Drought Relief Thanks to Big Snow

    By Alex Sosnowski, Expert Senior Meteorologist.
    February 23, 2013; 7:00 AM ET
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    The storm that brought windswept snow and blizzard conditions Thursday brought needed moisture to drought-stricken winter wheat and corn areas, as well as other agriculture over a large part of the Plains.

    The storm dumped over a foot of snow across a large area of the central Plains from northwestern and north-central Kansas to much of Nebraska, southeastern South Dakota and much of Iowa.

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    The important moisture content (liquid equivalent) of the snow averaged between one-third and two-thirds of an inch with a few places picking up double that amount thanks to even heavier snowfall.

    The snow will slowly melt and seep into the ground in the coming days and weeks.

    Rain soaked areas farther southeast over Texas and Oklahoma.

    Unfortunately, snow or rain did not fall in earnest everywhere over the Plains. Little precipitation occurred from southwestern Kansas to western Texas. However, part of this area did receive snow about a week ago with the equivalent of an average of one-quarter to one-half an inch of rain.

    Hutchinson, Kan., is in the heart of the winter wheat belt and has only received about 16 percent of its normal precipitation since early November. Normal precipitation is lean in this area to begin with during the winter with about 3.70 inches falling on average from Nov. 1 to Feb. 18. Only 0.60 of an inch of rain has fallen so far this winter.

    Meanwhile, a series of storms during the middle of the winter has staved off record low levels of the Mississippi River at St. Louis. Water levels have been in positive territory over the past couple of weeks. Levels were about 3 feet as of Feb. 19. The record low mark at St. Louis is minus 6.20 feet set on Jan. 16, 1940.


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