Snow vs Rain

As many of you know the Northeast is having a big year for snow fall. Many areas are receiving 10-12 inches at a time. I have seen and heard of massive snow banks as the stuff is piled higher and higher. There are some wonderful benefits to having snow cover. It acts as an insulating blanket protecting the turf from severe cold temperatures as we had last weekend. Along with this benefit comes a lower frost build up in the soil. This may or may not speed up thawing in the spring as it depends how much snow you have. What melts faster a foot of snow or a foot of frost? Another benefit is all the things you can do in snow: ski, sled, snow shoe etc. Winter rain on the other hand has very little benefit that I can see. Maybe filling your irrigation pond. We seem to be in this pattern of getting a few inches of snow then rain and ending up with 2-4 inches of slush that freezes. It makes travel difficult. Every parking lot is a sheet of ice. Everywhere you walk is ice. I am sure the number of falling accidents is way up on MV this winter. For turf we have these lakes and rivers everywhere that  shift between various states of either frozen solid or fully liquid. This situation is very bad for grass as it creates a problem called crown re-hydration. Here is a link to an article on winter snow cover dated last spring from the USGA: "our experts explain"

first hole notice the darker sections in fairway

cart staging area with foot deep puddle on grass

flag pole lawn with continuation of river from nine green and cart staging area
 These were taken yesterday and although the sun was out and it was a nice day the temps never rose above 34 degrees. As you walked on this it was all frozen and the dark areas were still liquid underneath. Snow has various amounts of moisture in it. Think great skiing snow is a dry powder vs snow man snow which is wetter and packs better. So our snow and rain mix is very saturated and wet. This keeps the top layer of turf saturated and prone to winter injury. More later....

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