Weather Forecast


Weather Talk: Drought concern is premature, at this point

Last summer brought severe drought conditions to parts of central and western North Dakota. Although the Red River Valley was certainly drier than average last summer and fall, it was not anywhere near dry enough to be called a drought.

This winter has been quite dry so far, but drought is a difficult thing to assess during winter. When the ground is frozen to a depth of several feet, water does not seep into the soil. Even in spring, only the topsoil becomes saturated with the spring thaw.

The one advantage of a snowy winter is that surface water is recharged. Lakes and sloughs are refilled. But soil moisture conditions are usually not changed very much, even in very snowy winters.

If the spring and early summer is very dry, we will have a drought on our hands. If the rain is plentiful, or just timely, things will be fine. There is no reason to fear a drought at this point in the winter.

John Wheeler

John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms.  John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold.  When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading.  John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.

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