Snow drought worries continue

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With just 22 percent of the nation covered by snow as of Jan. 4, many are raising concerns about the possible impacts the snow drought could have on water supplies, ski resorts and agriculture.

AccuWeather.com reports that a snow-depth analysis for Jan. 4 from 2004 to 2012 shows the smallest area of the country covered by snow. The 2007 winter has about 27 percent of snowcover, the second smallest area of the U.S. with snowcover.

The Intermountain West is currently experiencing a substantial snow drought this year when compared to normal and past years. The Northern Plains and the Upper Great lakes are also areas with little snowcover compared to past years.

The lack of snowcover across the Midwest could produce headaches for winter wheat yields later this year.  Snowcover acts to insulate winter wheat from Arctic cold snaps, thus keeping the soil temperature closer to freezing rather than subzero.

"If there is an arctic cold outbreak with below-zero temperatures, that could cause big problems for winter wheat, which is planted in the fall and goes dormant in the winter. Subzero cold could cause stunted growth and reduce the production for this year's wheat crop," Dale Mohler, Expert Senior Agricultural Meteorologist at AccuWeather.com, said in the article.

There is hope though – the AccuWeather.com team is forecasting a shift in the weather pattern. This change could bring a cold blast to the Midwest and rain to the Eastern portions of the country by mid-January. The change could also mean more cold waves in the near future.

Most of the other crops in the Midwest should be damaged by the snow drought but could be impacted is there is a dry spring following this dry winter.

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