Snow and rain welcome sight, but hopefully there is more to come
The moisture that came to the Haakon County area in the form of snow and rain during the last few weeks was welcome.
Reports and comments varied from area to area and personality to personality. Generally, there was less run-off than normal because the moisture “was just going into the ground.”
Some minor difficulties were caused by the rain. The girls’ golf meet in Wall was started, but then cancelled because of the downpour. Over-all, the rain was quietly accepted without complaint.
There are five reporting points in and around the Haakon County area used by the Farm Service Agency for official precipitation reports and statistics. The Philip reporting point is automated. Ron Haigh reports for the Cottonwood Range and Livestock Research Station. The Kirley reporting point is done by Marjorie Briggs. Milesville is reported by Paul and Donna Staben and the Midland point is reported by Rick and Rayma Reimann.
As of the 21st, Philip has received 2.74 inches of moisture for the month of April. Last April, Philip only received .33 of an inch for the entire month. For the 2004 reporting year, Philip received 15.91 inches of moisture. For 2003 - 11.37; for 2002 - 8.60; and for 2001 - 9.69.
According to Duke Westerberg of the FSA, the amount of moisture per year is often very deceptive because the timing is as important as the amount. As any rancher/farmer knows, a rain after harvest is of no real use. After a few very hot days, rain on hot soil and with a hot wind afterwards, also does little good.
Westerberg repeated a common saying of the area, “We are only two weeks away from a drought.”
In 1988, moisture was almost 100 percent of normal, but wrong timing made the year one of the worst drought years in recent history. On the other hand, 1990 had only around 80 percent of normal moisture, yet it was a fairly good year because of good timing.
Westerberg said that 2000-2001 was when the recent sequential drier years began. Showing optimism and realism, he said, “I hope we can get more rain, but I am not banking on it. This recent moisture could shut off at any time.”
Even in a county-wide area, precipitation can vary greatly. As a general rule, land near the Cheyenne River receives more rain (sometimes storms) than the prairie. A west-east area of land that has its center near Grindstone Butte generally receives more moisture than areas around it. Some unofficial reports after the recent rain boasted of up to four inches of precipitation.
Ron Haigh said, “Out here we received close to 3.25 inches in the last two weeks. The timing was good for grass and winter wheat. We aren’t out of the woods yet; it just needs to keep coming.”
Grady Crew of Crew Insurance Agency said, “From our perspective, it is totally different – a lot better – from the last four years during this time of year. Our losses are almost non-existent at this point; and that feeling takes in a pretty wide area.”
According to Tom Lesselyoung, Philip Public Works Director, “The rain caused no difficulties around Philip. It has been dry enough that there was not a lot of run-off. The Bad River has been flowing just a little since the last snow melted. It was a very much needed rain.”
Esther Oldenberg of the Philip Ambulance Crew stated, “It was beautiful. It put people in a lot better mood.”