Cold and snow flurries expected to chase mid-October warmth this weekend

Well-established winter wheat photosynthesizes in the bright afternoon sunshine south of Kimball Tuesday. Shaun Evertson/Business Farmer

KIMBALL – It was a week of dry and balmy mid-October weather across most of the tri-state region of southeast Wyoming, northeast Colorado, and the Nebraska Panhandle. Daytime conditions were for the most part sunny, warm, and calm, and producers took advantage of this to continue harvest activities.

In and around Kimball County sugarbeet harvest continued at a high pace and most producers were in the home stretch. Sugarbeet yields were reported to be quite good and with reasonably good sugar content. The warm weather was less than ideal for sugar production but quite good for harvesting. Some dryland corn was also being harvested, though that effort was just getting started. For the most part, forage harvest has been wrapped up with only bale collection and distribution remaining.

Well managed pastures and rangeland continued to hold up well. The late flush of green, photosynthesizing cool- and warm-season grasses also continues to hold up, largely due to a nice soaking on October 10-11. Winter annual grasses such as downy brome also remain lush and green and are providing good fenceline grazing in many locations.

As of Tuesday afternoon (October 24) the National Weather Service was predicting sharply cooler air temperatures and a significant chance of rain followed by snow beginning Thursday. Daytime highs were predicted to fall into the 30’s and 40’s with overnight lows dipping into the low teens and approaching single digits. The chance of precipitation is generally forecast as high, however, rain and snow quantity is expected to be fairly low. The seven-day forecast anticipates a warming trend beginning on Monday with daytime air temps rebounding into the 40’s.

Regional Forecast and Conditions
As of Tuesday morning (October 24), the temperature at sunrise was 36 degrees under clear skies. Winds were northwest at 7 mph and the barometer was rising through 29.90 inches of mercury.

The October 24 NWS forecast for today’s weather (Friday, October 27) anticipates sunny  and breezy with a high of about 42. Tonight will be partly cloudy and breezy with a low of about 25 and a chance of snow flurries. Day length will be 10 hours and 39 minutes, night length 13 hours and 21 minutes.

Saturday will be partly sunny with a high of about 39 and a chance of rain and snow. Saturday night will be mostly cloudy with a low of 18 and a chance of snow.

Sunday will be mostly cloudy with a high of about 29 and a chance of snow. Sunday night will be mostly cloudy with a low of about 14 and a chance of snow.

Monday is expected to be mostly sunny with a high of about 35 and a chance of flurries. Monday night should be partly cloudy with a low of about 15 and a chance of flurries. Due to the dynamic nature of weather, forecasts beyond 48-72 hours are inexact.

At Kimball the October 17-23 daytime high averaged 78.85 degrees, about 16.85 degrees warmer than last week. The weekly high temperature was 82 degrees on October 17. Overnight lows averaged 37.14 degrees, about 6.14 degrees warmer than last week. The weekly low temperature was 35 degrees on October 18, 21, and 23. The weekly mean temperature at Kimball was 56 degrees, about 10 degrees warmer than last week and 9.6 degrees warmer than the October average of 48.6. The 130-year month-to-date (October 1-27) average daily temperature is 47.1. The highest October 1-27 daily average was 57.2 degrees in 1963, with the lowest 39.3 in 2009. The 130-year average high and low temperatures at Kimball for October are 64.3 and 32.8, respectively.

Total liquid precipitation at Kimball over the October 17-23 period was zero inches.

Winds near Kimball averaged westerly and occasionally breezy over the October 17-23 period. Gusts for the week averaged 27 mph. High gust for the week was 40 mph on October 17.

Historic climate data

Here’s an overview of October 27 temperature and precipitation highs, lows, and averages over the preceding 130 years at Kimball. Data is taken from the High Plains Regional Climate Center (1893-2016,, and precision weather monitoring on the EJE Ranch south of Kimball (2008-present).

Last year (October 27, 2022): Daily high temperature 52 degrees, overnight low 27 degrees, average temperature 39.5 degrees. Precipitation zero inches, snowfall zero inches, snow depth zero inches.

The warmest October 27 on record was 83 degrees in 1999. The coolest October 27 high temperature was 18 degrees in 1925. The coldest October 27 overnight low was -7 degrees in 2020. The warmest October 27 overnight low was 45 degrees in 1961. Over the years since 1893 the high temperature on October 27 has averaged 57.0 degrees, the overnight low 27.0 degrees, the daily average 41.9 degrees, precipitation has averaged 0.03 inches, snowfall 0.1 inches, snow depth zero inches.

The highest October 27 precipitation total was 0.50 inches (snow) in 1925. Highest snowfall was 5.0 inches in 1925, highest snow depth 6.0 inches in 1997.

USDA Weekly Crop Reports, October 23

Nebraska – For the week ending October 15, 2023, there were 6.2 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 22 percent very short, 30 percent short, 43 percent adequate, and 5 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 27 percent very short, 35 percent short, 35 percent adequate, and 3 percent surplus.

Corn harvested was 62 percent, equal to last year, and ahead of 51 percent for the five year average.

Soybeans harvested was 83 percent, behind 91 percent last year, but near 79 percent average.

Winter wheat condition rated 4 percent very poor, 14 percent poor, 39 percent fair, 34 percent good, and 9 percent excellent. Winter wheat emerged was 89 percent, ahead of 84 percent last year and 83 percent average.

Sorghum condition rated 5 percent very poor, 9 percent poor, 28 percent fair, 33 percent good, and 25 percent excellent. Sorghum mature was 99 percent, ahead of 92 percent last year, and near 96 percent average. Harvested was 54 percent, near 52 percent last year and 53 percent average.

Dry edible beans harvested was 92 percent, near 94 percent last year.

Pasture and range conditions rated 6 percent very poor, 12 percent poor, 38 percent fair, 36 percent good, and 8 percent excellent. 

Wyoming – A combination of warmer temperatures and minimal rainfall led to 6.8 days suitable for field work across Wyoming during the week. As the fall season advances, harvest progress was nearing completion for most crops throughout the State. Temperatures across the State were warmer than average, ranging from 6 to 15 degrees above average. Rainfall was minimal this week as the majority of areas received no measurable rainfall at all, while some received up to a half an inch.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Wyoming was free from severe (D2) drought or worse, although 1 percent of Wyoming was categorized in a moderate drought (D1), and 4 percent of Wyoming was categorized as dry (D0). Drought-free conditions were at 95 percent.

Reports from Goshen County indicated some reporters had made a fourth cutting of alfalfa hay, while their corn harvest had started off slowly.

Lincoln County reporters noted the completion of their second cutting of alfalfa hay, while being close to completion on harvesting their small grain crops.

Reports from Platte County indicated strong pasture conditions, and producers had started harvesting sugarbeets and corn for grain. So far this year, the county has not had any frost under warmer than average conditions for this time of year.

Stock water supplies across Wyoming were rated 2 percent very short, 19 percent short, and 79 percent adequate, compared with 1 percent very short, 15 percent short, and 84 percent adequate last week. 

Colorado – Moisture Harvest advanced quickly last week due to nearly ideal conditions. The entire State remained dry last week and no measurable precipitation was received. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor published on October 19, drought conditions remained prevalent in western and southwestern counties and continued to spread last week. Over 19 percent of the State was experiencing abaveragely dry conditions, and 16 percent of the State was rated in moderate drought. Over four percent of the State was rated in severe drought, unchanged from last week. Temperatures were above average across the State last week, with eastern counties 6 degrees to over 9 degrees above average and some northern localities more than 12 degrees above average. Northeastern and east central county reports noted harvest of spring crops made good progress last week amid dry conditions. Livestock producers continued selling and shipping calves. In the San Luis Valley, alfalfa hay harvest was complete and many producers were finished with potato harvest by week’s end. Livestock remained in good condition and forage quality in pastures was reported as average for the time of year, but conditions remained dry. Hay supplies were notably shorter than average in the area.

Fourth cutting of alfalfa advanced last week with 79 percent harvested, ahead of the 5-year average of 73 percent.

Corn harvested for grain progressed well last week, with 45 percent of the acreage harvested, compared to the 5-year average of 47 percent.

Sugarbeet harvest also advanced and 75 percent of the crop was harvested.

Harvest of the sunflower crop progressed ahead of the previous year and 5-year average, with 60 percent of the acreage harvested.

Potato harvest in the San Luis Valley was nearly complete with 96 percent of the acreage harvested.

Stored feed supplies were rated 3 percent very short, 8 percent short, 80 percent adequate, and 9 percent surplus. Cattle death loss was 1 percent heavy, 54 percent average, and 45 percent light. Sheep death loss was 1 percent heavy, 90 percent average, and 9 percent light. 

USDA Weekly Weather Bulletin, October 24

Pervasive dryness favored autumn fieldwork, including summer crop harvesting and late-season winter wheat planting. By October 22, more than three-quarters (77 percent) of the intended U.S. winter wheat acreage had been sown. From the Pacific Coast to the Plains and upper Midwest, warmth accompanying the dry weather promoted emergence and establishment of recently planted wheat.

Weekly temperatures averaged at least 10 degrees above average across parts of the northern Plains and much of the West. Some of the warmest weather covered the northern Intermountain West, as well as northern sections of the Rockies and adjacent High Plains. In contrast, readings averaged 5 to 10 degrees below normal in parts of the middle and southern Atlantic States.

Meaningful precipitation was confined to the Pacific Northwest and an area stretching from the Great Lakes region into the Northeast. Widespread weekly totals exceeding 2 inches were confined to New England and neighboring areas, such as eastern New York.

U.S. Drought Monitor

USDM reports derive averages from only the most recent 30 year period. Temperature and precipitation predictions derive from National Weather Service (NWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts.

Current drought status for the Nebraska Panhandle, Southwest Wyoming, and Northeast Colorado. Drought Categories: D0 – average dryness. D1 – moderate drought. D2 – severe drought. D3 – extreme drought. D4 – exceptional drought.

(October 17, 2023) A low-pressure system moved across the contiguous U.S., bringing heavy precipitation (greater than 2 inches) across much of the central Plains and Midwest this week. While in the southeast, upper-level energy moving across the Southeast brought rain over parts of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and northern Florida, before moving into the southern Mid-Atlantic. The most widespread improvements were made to northern Nebraska, eastern South Dakota, southern Minnesota, southern Wisconsin, northern Indiana and southern Texas where more well above average precipitation was observed this past week. Dry conditions continued across much of the Southern region, with widespread degradations occurring across the Tennessee Valley, central Mississippi Valley and northern parts of the southern Plains. Following a wet September, minor improvements were warranted for parts of Washington.

High Plains: Heavy precipitation brought widespread improvements to the southeastern parts of the region, especially along the South Dakota and Nebraska border. Much of northern Nebraska received at least 2 inches of precipitation, with some areas reporting more than 7 inches this week. One-category improvements were made across northern Nebraska, while 2-category improvements were made where historic rainfall was reported. The heavy precipitation also improved dryness (D0) and moderate to severe drought (D1-D2) conditions in eastern South Dakota. A small area in southwest Nebraska, Chase County, was degraded to D1 due to acute dryness over the past two month. In Kansas, northern parts of the state received precipitation this past week but not enough to lead to large improvements. Precipitation did improve a small area of extreme drought (D3) in the central part of the state, in the counties of McPherson and Saline. Status quo was maintained across much of the state with some degradation occurring along the eastern part of the state based on SPI/SPEI and soil moisture data.

West: Precipitation fell across much of the West with heavy precipitation along the coast from Washington to northern California, where more than 1 inch of precipitation occurred this past week. Above-average precipitation led to improvements to severe drought (D2) in southwest Washington, along with dryness (D0) to extreme drought (D1-D3) improvements to western Oregon and D0 to moderate drought (D1) improvements in northern California. Beneficial precipitation led to improvements in moderate drought to extreme drought (D0-D3) in portions of northwest Montana. Status quo was maintained across the rest of the region this week.

Near-term forecast: Looking ahead through October 28, the NWS Climate Prediction Center (CPC) favors near to above-average precipitation throughout much of contiguous U.S., Alaska and Hawaii with below-average precipitation most likely across the East Coast and in parts of southeast Alaska and on the Big Island in Hawaii. Increased probabilities for above-average temperatures are forecast from the Plains to the East Coast, as well as much of Alaska and Hawaii, while below-average temperatures are likely across much of the West.

Terminology: EDDI – Evaporative Demand Drought Index. This is an experimental model for drought prediction, using nationwide data from 1980-present. SPI – Standardized Precipitation Index, correlating present month/year precipitation with 30-plus year historical data. SPEI – Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index. SWE – Snow Water Equivalent. 

For more information on the U.S. Drought Monitor, including an explanation of terminology, visit:

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