March 1, 2007

Wet Winter Puts End to Drought In Missouri

Precipitation this winter in Missouri — snow, ice and freezing rain — has been blamed for power outages, downed trees, traffic accidents and even sinking boats. Now it has one more accomplishment to add to its list — breaking the drought that has affected parts of the state for nearly two years.

From the ice and snow storm that hit the state November 30 to the snows that fell as recently as last week across much of Missouri, the state has received enough precipitation to officially declare an end to the drought that gripped the state for much of 2005 and 2006, according to the state’s Drought Assessment Committee.

“While we’re still concerned about some other hydrological effects of nearly two years of drought, such as stock ponds and groundwater aquifer levels, we’re in a significantly better condition than we were just three months ago,” said Mike Wells, deputy director of the Department of Natural Resources and chairman of the Drought Assessment Committee.

As recently as November 28th, 49 Missouri counties were designated by the sub-committee as being in conservation phase — or Phase 3 — level drought and 37 were considered to be in a drought alert — or Phase 2 — level drought.

While 76 counties, including Scotland County, remain in an advisory phase, no Missouri counties remain in Phase 2 or Phase 3 drought, technically signaling an end to the dry spell. The remaining 38 counties were removed from any sort of drought category.

The drought had been ongoing — with only brief interruptions — since May 2005.

In 2006, according to the National Weather Service, Scotland County received between 12 and 16 inches below normal precipitation. Combined with dry spells the previous year, the drought had visibly taken its toll on area water sources with ponds and waterways well below normal stages.

The recent winter weather combined with a moderately heavy rain storm on February 24th, has helped remedy the problem locally, as well as across much of the state.

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