What’s luck got to do with it?
“We don’t have to be in a casino to get lucky.”
Those were the words spoken by Terry Reekers, Emmet County Emergency Management director, in reference to the rainy weather that doused Emmet County and surrounding areas.
“With the amount of rain we received today it would have amounted to between 10 and 12 inches of snow,” he explained, citing that weather conditions, temperatures, dew points among other factors, only allowed precipitation to fall as rain.
“We are stuck in a weather pattern. It has been the same zonal flow for several months and we are still under the effects of El Nino from early summer 2007,” he added.
Putting all of that in layman’s terms, Reekers said El Nino is credited for producing the colder and wetter conditions the area has experienced lately. The zonal flow gets a good tap on moisture from either the Pacific Ocean or Gulf of Mexico.
As for the stuck weather pattern, he said, “We need a break from this weather pattern but that takes time.”
The current weather maker is an extensive one. There was a tornado watch in Central Iowa at 6 p.m. Thursday while Poweshiek County was under a tornado warning.
“Then there was a potential blizzard forecasted for northwest Iowa but that has been altered. This is a powerful storm that is pulling in cold air from the north. We are projected to get 1 to 2 inches of snow Friday.”
The storm producing rainy conditions Thursday filled Reekers’ rain gauge to the .95 mark from 8 a.m. until he checked it at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Calling it a constant rain, he noted it was not fast-rated but included drizzle with light rain.
“The ground was already saturated in the fall and a few farmers I spoke to who were out working in the field recently said there is still frost in the ground. That means the tiles cannot take the water out. But this rain will help take the frost out.”
Below-ground temperatures at a 4-inch depth was 30 degrees. Reekers said if it snows, that will act as an insulator preventing the frost from moving.
“So this rain has been beneficial in getting rid of the frost and cleaning up what winter has left behind.”
From his observations Thursday, the ditches had standing water and the creeks were higher.
“The river has leveled at 4 feet and it is another three feet to flood stage.”
Turning attention to the forecast calling for snow, he said the Marshall, MN, area is predicted to receive up to 2 feet of snow. The forecast was calling for 8-12 inches early on with 40 mph winds.
“That area is part of the Des Moines River Watershed. “When that all melts it will run through here.“
Tempering the mood of the interview with some positives, Reekers said most of the highway system has had a chance to warm up. “That means the snow will turn to slush which doesn’t produce favorable driving conditions but that means the snow won’t get packed on the roadways.”
He has a critical item of concern in that the continued dampness and cool temperatures are not conducive to drying quickly.
He urges all residents to listen to weather forecasts and and reports on road conditions before heading outdoors.