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Published February 21, 2012, 11:50 AM

Snow in Dakotas should give farmers a boost

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Farmers in the Dakotas welcomed the Presidents Day snow that blanketed their dry fields, and forecasters said the snowfall should not worsen the spring flooding outlook for the Red River Valley, which has battled floods for three straight years.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Farmers in the Dakotas welcomed the Presidents Day snow that blanketed their dry fields, and forecasters said the snowfall should not worsen the spring flooding outlook for the Red River Valley, which has battled floods for three straight years.

Many parts of South Dakota got a couple of inches of snow Monday, and about 4 inches fell in the northern Black Hills and in the Mitchell area. The National Weather Service reports that 2-5 inches of snow fell in parts of eastern North Dakota.

That snow should not worsen the flood outlook for the Red River Valley of eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. The outlook so far calls for little chance of major flooding this spring.

"This isn't the beginning of a trend of snow system after snow system," weather service meteorologist Jim Kaiser told the Grand Forks Herald. "Given the very dry fall, there's (water) storage available this spring that hasn't been available for the last couple of years."

The latest flood outlook, released last week, shows that most areas of the valley can expect minor flooding at the worst.

"There's nothing signaling to us that it's going to be an extremely wet spring ... . What we're seeing is a normal spring pattern here," Kaiser said.

The dry fall and early winter is presenting a much different situation for farmers, many of whom struggled to even get into the field during the wet spring of 2011. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows much of the Dakotas facing abnormally dry or drought conditions.

"I'd say it's a little dry right now on top and we definitely could use some moisture before spring planting," eastern South Dakota farmer Jarrod Haven told KELO-TV. "The wintertime is a good time to have a drought, I guess. We've never lost a crop in February before. As long as we get a little timely rain this spring, we'll be in good shape."

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