Spring has sprung in the Upper Midwest, bringing with it 6+ inches of fresh snow. On the Monday after the first official day of spring, and following a weekend of temperatures in the 40s and 50s, my little suburb was blessed with a new blanket of beautiful powder.

Courtesy of the U.S. Drought Mitigation Center

Okay, “beautiful” is a relative term. To me, snow is always beautiful. On the day of the first snowfall of the season, I dance like a kid; maybe it’s the winter birthday and the Scandihoovian blood. For those in the snow management biz, heck yeah, it’s beautiful. To those in the Boston area? Not so much. And I truly apologize about waxing rhapsodic about snow after what you experienced this winter.

Why do I do so? Well, for many reasons. But one primary thought is: moisture. This is sounding a little like a broken record, but it’s one we all need to pay attention to. We need moisture. We need water. No matter where we’re located, we can’t get along without it. And it’s beyond scary when California is in its fourth year of exceptional drought.

The graphic displayed here might be a little difficult to read—at least the tiny parts—but you get the picture. The dark, brownish blob indicates areas that are affected by exceptional drought; the red shows those areas affected by extreme drought. As of mid-March, according to the U.S. Drought Mitigation Center, 52,269,214 people in the West are affected by drought. The larger Drought Monitor map (found here: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) shows that northern Texas and parts of Oklahoma also are struggling through extreme and exceptional drought conditions. Population affected in the South? 14,710,751.

These are significant nursery production areas. But as the statistics show, these areas are home to nearly 67 million people, all of whom need water. Which means extreme and exceptional competition for resources.

Same old, same old, huh? Well, it’s probably not going to get better. Even those areas that aren’t currently affected by drought will be forced to share, and that will be sooner rather than later. As I sat and watched the diminishing flurries, I was reminded that I live not 30 miles from Lake Michigan. This area hasn’t seen critical drought conditions for a while, but it’s not unheard of. And very, very soon, the Great Lakes region will be required to share the wealth; there’s already talk of what restrictions we’ll face when drought-prone areas come to call.

Which is why I’m always glad to see snow. That is, until I have to shovel.