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Melted snowfall eases drought better than rain
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Assistant state climatologist Pam Knox talks about the beneficial effect of snow on drought.

When it comes to drought relief, snow has a slight edge over rain.

Assistant state climatologist Pam Knox said the snow that fell across North Georgia on Wednesday night could help recharge the groundwater because it percolates down as it slowly melts.

"In general, snow is better, just because it tends to have a longer time to infiltrate into the soil," she said. "It would be good for a slow, timed release of water into the hydrologic system."

Knox said most types of soil can only absorb about a tenth of an inch of water per hour.

"Anything that happens at a faster rate than that tends to run off," she said.

Unfortunately, by Thursday morning most of the precipitation was falling as rain, which caused the accumulated snow to melt much more quickly than it otherwise would.

"The pattern of snow being replaced by rain is fairly typical for Georgia," Knox said. "You just have to enjoy the snow while it lasts. But water is water, and we’ll take it in any form we can get."

Knox said she is glad to see the return of a normal winter weather pattern, with frequent episodes of rain and/or snow. But she said it’s too early to predict when, or if, the extreme drought will ease this year.

"We won’t have a clear idea of what we’re looking at until March," she said.

Regional events