As Michigan farmers look to the New Year and growing season ahead, recent snows encourage optimism. In northern climates, snow can account for a significant portion of annual precipitation, increasing soil moisture essential for plant growth. Beyond this clear advantage, snow positively impacts other aspects of agriculture from soil fertility to global trade.
Michigan receives average annual snowfall totals ranging from 30 inches in the southeast to as much as 200 inches in parts of the Upper Peninsula. This may seem like quite a bit, but it takes approximately 10 inches of snow to provide 1 inch of water. Annual precipitation totals vary much less across the state ranging between 30 and 38 inches on average. Therefore, snow accumulation provides between 7 and 66 percent of total annual precipitation. With nearly half of the state still facing abnormally dry conditions, the value of this winter precipitation is magnified. A few more significant snow events could put the drought of 2012 officially behind us.
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