- Associated Press - Friday, February 20, 2015

YANKTON, S.D. (AP) - A winter with little snow has left much of the Dakotas abnormally dry or in moderate drought, though a weather expert says conditions could improve in the coming months.

The lack of snow in some parts of the Plains states is “unheard of” for this time of year, National Drought Mitigation Center climatologist Brian Fuchs said.

“We’re abnormally dry,” he said, according to the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan. “We’re talking the last 90 days or so with moderate drought in the Dakotas and Minnesota.”

The Plains region has seen below-average snowfall combined with above-average temperatures for much of the winter, according to South Dakota state climatologist Dennis Todey.

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows about three-fourths of the Dakotas in abnormally dry or moderate drought conditions. Outlooks posted by the National Weather Service this week indicate a low chance of significant flooding along major waterways in the region, including the Red, Souris, Missouri and James rivers.

The coming months will determine whether summer will be marred by drought, and there is a greater-than-average chance of precipitation in March, April and May, according to Fuchs.

The impact of a dry winter is completely different to that of a dry spring or summer, he said.

“As far as the Plains and Midwest, the dry winter really won’t impact us moving forward unless we continue into a dry spring and a dry summer. Then, those moisture deficits will start mounting,” Fuchs said.

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