Wind-blown Snow as a Water Resource

An Overview
In the stress of winter, it's hard to see much that's good about a blizzard. Snow blows by like a flooding river, but the water's hard. It stings the face, makes it hard to breath, and hard to see. It's hard on our animals, hard on us. Those bits of ice fly over the landscape, then park in big piles, right in our way. We either dig through, or wait until spring. If we wait, the piles melt into mud. Maybe worst of all, blizzards on the high plains sweep off much of the winter's snow that might have replenished soil moisture, to grow new grass.

These pages offer techniques that eliminate unwanted drifts. But more, they include ways to get some good from blizzards, by storing that hard water where it's useful. The tools include snow fences, shelterbelts, vegetation management. Our research has found some ways to make these time-tested methods more efficient.

Our intention here is to provide an introduction to these methods, one that gives you ideas of what's possible, and suggestions for where to find all the information you need to make them happen.

So, with herds in wind shelters, roads clear behind snow fences, with windbreaks keeping yards and corrals drift-free, and with drifts filling up stock ponds, could there be some good in a blizzard? No? You're right, they're still too hard! We'll keep working on it.

It's hard--but it's water.

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