Boone County slips out of drought for first time in nine months

Thursday, March 14, 2013 | 9:05 p.m. CDT; updated 11:12 p.m. CDT, Thursday, March 14, 2013

COLUMBIA — For the first time since June, Boone County is free of a drought designation.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor classifies all of Boone County as "abnormally dry," an improvement from the previous week, when the entire county was in "moderate drought."

Far west Missouri remained in moderate to severe drought; the southeastern third of the state, including St. Louis, was free of any drought-related designation.

Rain and snow totaled 3.86 inches of precipitation in February, making it the 10th-wettest February in Missouri since 1890, according to the National Weather Service. So far, there has been 1.57 inches of precipitation in March. 

With the soil unable to absorb all of the recent rain and runoff from snow, streams and rivers saw significant rises earlier this week. At Hinkson Creek on Thursday, the water level had fallen to about 4 feet from 12 feet on Monday after weekend rain.

Rodney Southard, of the U.S. Geological Survey Water Science Center in Rolla, said the Geological Survey measures discharge, which is how much water flows through a cross-section of a river, by cubic feet per second. 

According to the U.S. Geological Survey website, the water discharge of Hinkson Creek on Thursday was 48 cubic feet per second. That's higher than the median discharge for March 14 of 32 cubic feet per second.

Craig Gemming, a fisheries biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, said the Missouri River gauge at Jefferson City was 12 feet Thursday morning — down from 19.35 feet Monday night.

Gemming said rain and snow are beneficial for different reasons: A heavy storm will likely run off more quickly into nearby bodies of water whereas snow will sit on top of and slowly melt into the ground and into the water table below the soil.

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