Bleacher report article “It’s one of the more unusual things I’ve seen in my life,” said Scott Mott, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Georgia, who has tracked the phenomenon.
“But we are seeing it more and more every year.”
The snowpack in the Nachusa Grasslands, about 60 miles (96 kilometers) north of Atlanta, typically falls between 4 and 5 inches (10 to 12.5 cm) on average this time of year, and up to 11 inches (27.5 centimeters) in the spring and summer.
But in recent years, it’s been about 10 inches (23.5 centimeters) or more on average, Mott said.
“The snow is the most precious resource we have in the region,” he said.
That’s because the snowpack is essentially a reservoir of water that is slowly released into the atmosphere by evaporation from grasslands vegetation.
In the spring, that water flows toward the northern portion of the state, where it is replenished by a river.
The snowpack also tends to stay high and dry in the winter months.
The amount of snowfall this winter was the lowest in almost a century.
But it’s a sign that the drought-stricken Plains region is starting to recover, as is its capacity to store and distribute water, said Jim Crouch, a University of Oklahoma geoscientist who studies water resources in the Plains.
That recovery is happening despite the fact that rainfall rates have remained largely flat in recent decades.
The state, which was hit hard by the recession and the subsequent economic downturn, has a long-term drought that has been worsened by global warming.
And this winter’s snowfall may be the result of a more prolonged drought, Crouch said.
“It’s really a reflection of the overall recovery, of the ongoing drought that we have,” Crouch told The Associated Press by email.
“As we have seen throughout the winter, it is not the snow that is a cause of the drought, but rather the lack of moisture in the grasslands and the lack that there is water in the atmosphere.”
The Nachusas were hit hard this winter by the drought and the ensuing economic downturn.
Many people in the area have been unable to find work and are struggling to survive, and the area’s main source of drinking water comes from Lake Fulton, which is also the source of the runoff.
Crouch said the drought could have more severe consequences than simply snow.
The dry conditions may cause the drought to intensify, with the runoff and the snow accumulation causing more damage.
That could lead to flooding, he said, especially in the central part of the region.
That could lead, in turn, to increased runoff and more water out of the soil.
The weather in the last few years has also been a boon for people trying to keep up with the snow, Mowatt said.
The National Weather Agency says the Nacesas are home to some of the most extensive prairie grasslands in the U.S. and that the grassland is one of a few types of grasslands that can withstand the heat.
“The snow can create some of those conditions that are very favorable for the grasses, so they can thrive,” Mott told the AP.
“And we have a lot of prairie that we know, as well, that can handle the heat.”
A snow storm last winter in the western Nacesa Plains, about 40 miles (66 kilometers) west of Atlanta.