Mariton: Snow and Rain

March 7, 2015

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

We are running about an inch below average for the first two months of the year.  January was near average with 3.70 inches of precipitation (3.47” is the average).  We had a fair amount of snow in January, but most of the precipitation came as rain and freezing rain.  That is not totally surprising.   Melting snow doesn’t generate a lot of liquid.  For instance, the 1.2 inches of dry snow we received on January 7 only yielded 0.06 inches of water when it was melted.  Even the 5 inches of wet snow that we received on January 24 only yielded 0.79 of liquid.  As a rule of thumb, it would take about 37 inches of snow to yield the 3.70 inches of liquid that we received in January.  (We didn’t get anywhere near that amount of snow!)

February seemed like a very snowy month, but it ended up below average for precipitation.  I recorded 1.96 inches of precipitation at Mariton.  (The average is 3.07 inches.)

The cold temperatures this winter has given us a pretty good snow pack.  That makes it tough to get around the woods without snow shoes or skis.  It is also making it challenging to find room to pile the snow.  (We still have lots of parking spaces at Mariton, but I lost a couple spaces to the plow piles.)  I, along with a lot of Mariton’s wildlife, am looking forward to seeing the ground again, but we need to be patient.

Ideally, when it warms up this weekend it will happen slowly enough to allow the snowmelt to be absorbed into the ground.  Not only does that help recharge aquifers, but it keeps basements dry.  If we assume that over 5 inches of water is tied up in the snow pack, we definitely don’t want it to melt all at once (especially since the ground is frozen and impermeable).