A last hurrah

A last hurrah The trees lining this stretch of Dakota Street in Vermillion gave the area a cathedral-like setting Monday, as they collected a thick coat of wet snow. by David Lias With spring less than a week away, Old Man Winter paid one last visit to Vermillion last weekend.

Residents awoke Monday morning to find a fresh 8-inch coat of thick, wet snow on the ground.

The white stuff kept falling throughout the day, making travel difficult. City crews began plowing streets, and homeowners fired up their snowblowers and grabbed shovels to try to keep their sidewalks and driveways clear.

By the time the storm system moved out of the Vermillion area, approximately 18 inches of snow had accumulated.

People may have been bothered by winter's last hurrah in the region, but Union County Extension Agent John Gille said the snow couldn't have arrived at a better time.

"It's good for homeowners and people on the farm," he said. "We need to have the alfalfa covered up until maybe the first or second week of April when temperatures are more stable."

The snow is also a great source of some of the first moisture of this spring.

"Basically, with the moisture that we had, if we had kept up with the 40 to 50 degree

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temperatures that we had (last week), and the wind, we were losing moisture," Gille said, "whereas now we are going to recharge what we lost."

He believes last week's warm weather had already taken most of the frost out of the ground.

"The soil should really gather all of this moisture; we shouldn't lose a lot unless we get really rapid increases in temperatures," Gille said Monday. "Then we might get some runoff."

So far, nature has been cooperating. Temperatures have gradually progressed throughout the week, reaching the upper 40s to lower 50s Wednesday.

The snow has slowly, but surely, been disappearing.

"This is definitely a boost," Gille said, talking about the upcoming planting season. "We need about 18 to 22 inches of moisture, and in previous years when we were a little short, it definitely impacted the crops."

Pastures, lawns, small, young trees and trees that have been under stress, all were helped by the snow.

"It buys us more time," Gille said. "With the up and down temperatures we were having, for example, we were having tulips and other flowers that were already emerging, and in some cases, if the temperature had gone back down, it would have killed them.

"With the snow now, and the moisture and the temperatures the way they are, that insulates them," he said.

He hopes temperatures will stay stable for awhile � in about the 40 to 50 degree range.

"I know we like getting the warmer temperatures, but we're getting into calving now," Gille said. "If we can maintain steady temperatures without a lot of wind, then that helps the guys with the new calves and lambs."

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