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Drought status likely to continue for Hubbard County

It will likely take at least two seasons of above-average precipitation to move the area out of a drought status,.

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Abundant snowfall this winter will help alleviate the lack of precipitation last year, but it will likely take two or more seasons of above average snowfall to get the area out of drought status. Contributed / Itasca State Park.
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It will likely take at least two seasons of above-average precipitation to move the area out of a drought status, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Above-average snowfall this winter will help, but a lot depends on what happens in the spring as well.

Bill Barrett, a meteorologist technician with the NWS in Grand Forks, said Park Rapids had 18.06 inches of liquid precipitation in 2021. The normal precipitation is 23.86.

“That was almost 6 inches below normal, so certainly a drought situation,” he said. “The snow we got recently helps but it all depends on what happens the rest of the winter and into the spring. We’re going in with equal chances of the precipitation being above or below normal the rest of the winter, which goes through March 1 for forecasting purposes. In December, Park Rapids had 1.42 inches of water equivalent and the normal is .52, so you did almost three times normal so that’s good. That’s certainly going to help, but we need more than that to relieve the drought situation. We’ll be in a drought for awhile. If we had a wetter spring and summer, we’d be well on the way to getting back to average.”

This is a weak La Nina winter, which traditionally means colder than normal temperatures and average to above average precipitation. “So far that’s what we’ve been getting in December,” Barrett said. “The temperatures in December were about average, but only because we had a warm first half even though it ended very cold. January, we’re certainly starting off with below-average temperatures.”

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Barrett said the two-week forecast calls for below-average temperatures. “The second half of the month looks to be a little bit warmer,” he said. “Precipitation trends so far are looking near normal.”

He said one benefit of all the snow we have received is it provides an insulating blanket for septics and pipes under the ground.

“With this much snow and these temperatures, the snow cover’s going to stay. It also helps some with fire danger before green up.”

Related Topics: DROUGHT
Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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