Could the tides be turning for the parched Plains? That’s the question on many minds as a brewing storm in the west appears to be ready to target the dry region.
While the exact track and impact of the storm has yet to be determined, many models paint a bulls-eye on several key agricultural states, including Kansas and Nebraska, two of the driest states in the country.
Moisture, whether as snow or rain, has been scarce in the region with most storms bypassing the Plains. Last week’s Drought Monitor report showed that 96 percent of Nebraska and 75 percent of Kansas is in extreme or worse drought.
While it’s unlikely that the snow will eliminate the drought, any little bit will help. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), most of the Sunflower and Husker States reported just a trace of precipitation so far in 2013.
Days before the storm hits, models and forecasts pegged snowfall totals between 6 and 10 inches for areas from central Kansas into southern South Dakota. However, with so much time remaining before any precipitation from the storm begins to fall, changes to these totals will be expected. Overnight data will give forecasters a better look at accumulations on Wednesday.
Currently the storm should start affecting the Plains on Wednesday evening and linger into Thursday evening. In addition to snow, southern Kansas may see also see freezing rain and sleet.
Despite this, as of Tuesday afternoon, the NWS released Winter Weather Watches and warnings for all counties in both states. The Winter Weather Watches were also extended into South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas.
Agricultural meteorologists had even more good news on Tuesday. Reuters reports that another storm system is expected to bring rain and snow again to the region next week.
John Dee, meteorologist for Global Weather Monitoring, told Reuters that "this will really help add to soil moisture levels."
The next ten days may not quench the drought, but it will bring some relief to thirsty soil.