By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – More than 60 percent of Minnesota has less than two inches of snow cover.

That’s causing climatologists to keep a close watch.

Even though the state is considered abnormally dry, it doesn’t mean there will be long-term effects.

Climatologists say right now all we can do is wait and see.

The Twin Cities is over 13 inches of snow below average for the season so far.

“We’ve had such little snow fall we haven’t even broken two feet yet in the metro this season,” said WCCO meteorologist Lauren Casey.

She said that by this date last season, 40 inches of snow had fallen and there were 13 inches on the ground.

“And right now…we’re at one inch,” Casey said.

Assistant state climatologist Pete Boulay said the ground at the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus is frozen to 16 inches below the surface.

That frost keeps moisture from getting in.

But Boulay says it doesn’t matter how much snow you have sitting on top of the ground. What matters is what’s in the ground.

“Any moisture that was there in the fall is still sitting there, ready to be used in the growing season in the spring,” Boulay said. “We had adequate moisture going into it when the soil froze up, and it’s still kind of just waiting there to be used, kind of like withdrawing money out of the bank.”

Boulay says it’s important to have winter time moisture but even more important to have adequate rainfall in the spring and fall.

“I don’t think farmers need to be concerned right now,” he said. “We have adequate moisture in the ground.”

So this dry winter should not have lasting effects.

“On average, about 10 inches of snow will hold about one inch of water,” Casey said.

She said the real impact is on the lack of outdoor activity, and not potential problems for farmers.

“As always, it’s kind of a wait and see what happens in the spring,” Boulay said.

Climatologists hope there is enough rainfall this spring to help resuscitate the soil.

But remember past problems with planting have been because there has been too much rain keeping farmers out of their fields.

Reg Chapman

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