Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Episode 567 (3-8-21): Spring’s Approach and the Water that Winter Left Behind

Click to listen to episode (4:22)

Sections below are the following:

Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.)

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 3-5-21.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of March 8, 2021.  This episode is a revised version of an episode from March 2015.

MUSIC – ~11 sec – instrumental 

This week, we feature a tune to mark the arrival soon of spring and give a bit of water-credit to the departing winter.  Have a listen for about 30 seconds.

MUSIC - ~32 sec – instrumental

You’ve been listening to part of “Winter’s Fall,” by No Strings Attached, on their 1999 album, “In the Vinyl Tradition, Vol. II,” from Enessay Music.  In one sense, the “fall” in the title brings to mind the approaching end of winter and the bursts of biological activities that start in spring [SOUND – Spring Peepers - ~4 sec] and continue through summer and early autumn [SOUND – Evening insects in early October - ~5 sec].

But those activities—from frog calling, to insect buzzing, to many human activities—take water, and the water that’ll be available during spring and summer in pools, ponds, streams, and underground depends in large part on the water that falls during winter.  About 37 percent of Virginia’s statewide average annual precipitation falls from November through March, according to Southeast Regional Climate Center records from 1895 through 2020.  But compared to warm-weather rainfall, winter precipitation is less likely to evaporate rapidly and less likely to be used by plants.  As a result, much of winter precipitation can seep into groundwater, recharging supplies that’ll be available in warmer months for plants and as base flow in streams and rivers.  Winter recharge of water supplies is even more important in relatively dry—but snowy—western states; in California, for example, typically over 78 percent of the annual average precipitation occurs from November through March, according to records between 1971 and 2000.

While Virginia’s water managers don’t have to focus each winter on snowpack levels, like many westerners do, what falls each Commonwealth winter is still key to our summer water supplies. 

Thanks to No Strings Attached for permission to use this week’s music, and we close with about 20 more seconds of “Winter’s Fall.”

MUSIC - ~22 sec – instrumental


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


This Virginia Water Radio episode revises and replaces Episode 258, 3-23-15.

“Winter’s Fall,” from the 1999 album “In the Vinyl Tradition, Vol. II,” is copyright by No Strings Attached and Enessay Music, used with permission.  More information about the now-retired group No Strings Attached is available online at https://www.enessay.com/index.html.  This music was used previously by Virginia Water Radio most recently in Episode 461, 2-25-19.

The sounds heard were Spring Peepers in Blacksburg, Va., March 11, 2015; and various night-time insect sounds in Blacksburg, October 2, 2014.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at http://www.bencosgrove.com.


Snow and ice on December 30, 2014, in Blacksburg, Va., at a temporary pond that provides spring breeding habitat for frogs and other amphibians.

Icy snow on an American Beech twig in Blacksburg, Va., January 28, 2021.  Photo by Lesley Howard, used with permission.

Ice hanging from a tree twig at Heritage Park in Blacksburg, Va., February 20, 2021.  This was ice that had collected on the twig during an ice storm and then separated from most of the length of the twig during melting except for a short section that kept the ice attached.  This phenomenon was widespread that day in this area.


Used for Audio

Paul Rogers, Sierra snowpack at 61% as new drought looms for California this summer, Bay Area News Service, as published by The Mercury News, March 2, 2021.

Southeast Regional Climate Center at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, “State Climate Data,” online at https://sercc.com/state-climate-data/.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “U.S. Drought Monitor,” online at https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/.  For a representative comment on the importance of snowpack in the western United States, see the March 4, 2021, weekly report, “Summary/West.”

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, “Drought,” online at https://www.deq.virginia.gov/water/water-quantity/drought.

Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, “Drought Status Report for March 2015,” accessed 3/23/15 online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought.aspx; this page was no longer available online, as of 3-5-21.

Western Regional Climate Center, “Historical Data/Comparative Summaries/Average Statewide Precipitation for the Western U.S. States,” online at https://wrcc.dri.edu/Climate/comp_table_show.php?stype=ppt_avg.

For More Information about Water Quantity in Virginia

U.S. Geological Survey/Virginia and West Virginia Water Science Center, online at https://www.usgs.gov/centers/va-wv-water.

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, “Water Quantity,” online at https://www.deq.virginia.gov/water/water-quantity.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See particularly the “Groundwater,” “Overall Importance of Water,” “Science,” and “Weather/Natural Disasters” categories.

Following are links to some other episodes on water quantity or supply.
Groundwater generally – Episode 306, 3-7-16.
Virginia water resources numbers –
Episode 539, 8-24-20.
Water quantity information sources – Episode 546, 10-12-20.

Following are links to some other episodes on winter precipitation.

Snow, sleet, and freezing rain – Episode 461, 2-25-19.
Snow physics and chemistry – Episode 407, 2-12-18.


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2020 Music SOLs 

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2018 Science SOLs 

Grades K-5: Earth and Space Systems
1.7 – Weather and seasonal changes affect plants and animals, including humans.
2.7 – Weather patterns and seasonal changes affect plants, animals, and their surroundings.
4.4 – Weather conditions and climate affect ecosystems and can be predicted.

Grades K-5: Earth Resources
3.8 – Natural events and humans influence ecosystems.

Grade 6
6.6 – Water has unique physical properties and has a role in the natural and human-made environment.

Life Science
LS.5 – Biotic and abiotic factors affect an ecosystem.

Earth Science
ES.6 – Resource use is complex.
ES.8 – Freshwater resources influence and are influenced by geologic processes and human activity.ES.12 – The Earth’s weather and climate result from the interaction of the sun’s energy with the atmosphere, oceans, and the land.

2015 Social Studies SOLs 

Grades K-3 Economics Theme
2.8 – Natural, human, and capital resources.

World Geography Course
WG.2 – How selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including climate, weather, and how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.
WG.4 – Types and significance of natural, human, and capital resources.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15
– on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15
– on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16
– on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16
– on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18
– on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18
– on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18
– on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18
– on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19
– on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.
Episode 524, 5-11-20
– on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.
Episode 531, 6-29-20
– on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.
Episode 539, 8-24-20 – on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.