Hot and dry as Autumnal Equinox approaches


KIMBALL – Late August heat and dryness continued through the first week of September across most of the tri-state region. Daily air temperatures ranged in the mid-90s most days and touched triple digits on Tuesday, while a nearly stationary high-pressure area prevented the inflow of moisture-laden monsoonal air across the Panhandle of Nebraska, southeast Wyoming, and northeast Colorado, where only a few small, isolated showers occurred. Regardless of hot and dry days, overnight lows tumbled into the mid-50s, and lengthening nights allowed cool conditions to linger well into mid-morning.

Despite early September heat and dryness, the Autumnal Equinox is less than two weeks away. Just after 7 p.m. MDT on Thursday, Sept. 22, the sun’s apparent movement to the south will reach the midpoint of the annual journey toward winter. This midpoint is the moment summer ends, and autumn begins.

In and around Kimball County, dryland crops continued to mature toward harvest. Late-season dryland alfalfa has been surprisingly productive, and many producers are swathing forage crops such as foxtail and sudex. Dryland corn continued to mature and generally looks quite good. Some producers were chopping corn last week. Proso millet continued to ripen and change color, and swathing was underway in some areas. Dryland soybeans were beginning to dry down and drop leaves. 

Winter wheat planting got underway in and around Kimball County as producers tried to take advantage of adequate soil moisture to germinate more solid wheat stands than was often the case last September. 

Well-managed pastures and rangeland continued to hold up quite nicely despite the hot and dry conditions. While the rapid growth phase for warm-season grasses has ended, both warm- and cool-season grasses continued to photosynthesize, giving grasslands an unseasonal green sheen across much of the region. Chronically overgrazed grasslands, on the other hand, remained in very poor condition.

Regional Forecast and Conditions

As of Tuesday morning (Sept. 6), the temperature at sunrise was 55 degrees under sunny skies. Winds were westerly at 3 mph the barometer was rising at 30.19 inches of mercury (in/Hg).

Today’s weather (Friday, Sept. 9) is expected to be sunny and significantly cooler than the last several days, with a daily high temperature climbing only to about 75 degrees. There is a 40% chance of rain Friday night with an overnight low of about 42. Day length will be 12 hours and 47 minutes, night length 11 hours and 13 minutes.

Saturday is expected to be mostly cloudy and cooler still, with a high of 57 and a chance of rain. Saturday night should be cloudy with a chance of showers and even cooler with an overnight low of 38.

Sunday should be sunny and warmer, with the high reaching about 73 before falling off to around 42 under mostly clear skies.

Monday through Wednesday is predicted to be sunny and warm with high temps near 85 and overnight lows falling into the lower 40s.

At Kimball, the Aug. 30-Sept. 5 daytime high averaged 92.42 degrees, about 4.42 degrees warmer than last week. The weekly high temperature was 98 degrees on Sept. 5. Overnight lows averaged 52.57 degrees, about 1.15 degrees warmer than last week. The weekly low temperature was 50 degrees on Sept. 3. The weekly mean temperature at Kimball was 72.5 degrees, about 2.79 degrees warmer than last week and 11.8 degrees warmer than the Sept. average of 60.7 degrees. The long-term month-to-date (Sept. 1-9) average daily temperature, however, is 63.9, and the highest Sept. 1-9 daily average was 73.8 degrees in 2013. Therefore, while it’s been quite warm thus far in September, we haven’t had record-breaking warmth. The long-term average high and low temperatures at Kimball for September are 77 and 44.4, respectively.

Kimball received 0.02 inches of rain on Aug. 31. Otherwise, it was very dry over the Aug. 30-Sept. 5 period.
Winds near Kimball averaged southwesterly and mild over the Aug. 30-Sept. 5 period. Gusts for the week averaged 23 mph. The high gust for the week was 32 mph on Aug. 31.

August weather almanac

Average 7 a.m. conditions: temperature 59.77 degrees, winds southeasterly at 5.7 mph, barometer 30.17 inches of mercury (in/Hg). 

The average daily high temperature is 88.61 degrees (129-year average of 85.9). The average daily low temperature is 56.38 degrees (129YA 54.2). The daily average temperature is 75.5 degrees (129YA 70.0). Total liquid precipitation was 2.63 inches (129YA 1.8). Year-to-date (YTD) precipitation is 15.21 inches (129YA 13.51). Total snowfall zero inches (129YA zero inches). YTD snow 47.68 inches (129YA 26.4).

Departures: Daily High, +2.71 degrees; Daily Low, +2.18 degrees; Daily Average, +2.5 degrees; Total Liquid Precipitation, +0.83 inches; YTD precipitation +1.7 inches. Total Snow zero inches, YTD snow +21.28 inches.

Historic climate data

Here’s an overview of Sept. 9 temperature and precipitation highs, lows, and averages over the preceding 129 years at Kimball. Data is taken from the High Plains Regional Climate Center (www.hprcc.unl.edu), where you can find and track data for your own particular location.

Last year (Sept. 9, 2021): Daily high temperature 96 degrees, overnight low 48 degrees, average temperature 72 degrees. Precipitation zero inches, snowfall zero inches, snow depth
zero inches.

The warmest Sept. 9 on record was 100 degrees in 1931. The coolest Sept. 9 high temperature was 52 degrees in 2008. The coldest Sept. 9 overnight low was 22 degrees in 1962. The warmest Sept. 9 overnight low was 61 degrees in 1958. Over the years since 1893, the high temperature on Sept. 9 has averaged 79 degrees, the overnight low 46 degrees, the daily average 62.6 degrees; precipitation has averaged 0.05 inches, snowfall zero inches, snow depth zero inches.

The highest Sept. 9 precipitation total was 1.32 inches (rain) in 1973. The highest snowfall was zero inches; the highest snow depth was zero inches.

USDA Crop Progress Reports, Sept. 5

Nebraska – For the week ending Sept. 4, 2022, there were 6.7 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 47% very short, 37% short, 16% adequate, and 0% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 42% very short, 38% short, 20% adequate, and 0% surplus.

Corn conditions rated 17% very poor, 16% poor, 28% fair, 29% good, and 10% excellent. Corn dough was 95%, near 96% for both last year and the five-year average. Dented was 74%, near 76% last year and 73% average. Mature was 19%, near 17% last year, and ahead of the 13% average. 

Soybean conditions rated 12% very poor, 16% poor, 31% fair, 33% good, and 8% excellent. Soybeans dropping leaves was 25%, ahead of 19% last year and 17% average.

Winter wheat planted was 1%, equal to last year, and near 2% average.

Sorghum conditions rated 35% very poor, 27% poor, 18% fair, 16% good, and 4% excellent. Sorghum headed was 95%, behind 100% last year, and near 99% average. Coloring was 57%, well behind 78% last year, and behind 67% average. Mature was 5%, equal to last year, and near 6% average.

Dry edible bean conditions rated 4% very poor, 4% poor, 38% fair, 53% good, and 1% excellent. Dry edible beans setting pods was 90%, behind 99% last year and 98% average. Dropping leaves was 16%, well behind 47% last year and behind 32% average.

Pasture and range conditions rated 50% very poor, 28% poor, 15% fair, 6% good, and 1% excellent.

Wyoming – For the week ending Sept. 4, 2022, Wyoming experienced another week of extreme dryness as precipitation was at or near zero for the majority of the State. Only isolated portions of Platte, Goshen, and south-eastern Niobrara Counties received rain. Moisture totals in these areas ranged from trace amounts to about 0.13 inches at the most.

According to the US Drought Monitor for Sept. 1, 2022, there was no change in drought conditions from the previous week. The amount of land that was drought-free held steady at 9.9%. The amount of land rated abnormally dry sat still at 34.6%. Moderate drought remained the same at 34.3%. For the third week in a row, severe and extreme drought conditions were unchanged at 19.6 and 1.6%, respectively.

There were no apparent forecasts for precipitation in Lincoln County. The hot and dry days were ongoing though nights remained cool. Lows at night were seen in the low 40’s and high 30’s.

Hot weather and dryness covered Platte County, combined with record high temperatures most days. Non-irrigated fields were clearly in very poor condition. Pastures also suffered immensely. 

Irrigation water supplies across the State were rated 17% very poor, 20% poor, 17% fair, and 46% good, compared to 14% very poor, 29% poor, 16% fair, and 41% good last week.

Stock water supplies across Wyoming were rated 11% very short, 39% short, and 50% adequate, compared to 7% very short, 48% short, and 45% adequate last week.

Colorado – For the week ending Sept. 4, 2022, above-average temperatures and very limited moisture plagued the state. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 46% of the State is under drought conditions, down 11 percentage points from the previous week. Seventeen percent of the State is experiencing severe to exceptional drought conditions, down 6 percentage points from last week. Extreme drought conditions are affecting 4% of the State, unchanged from last week. Areas of Phillips and Sedgwick Counties are experiencing exceptional drought, accounting for less than 1% of the State.

In northeastern and east central counties, warm, dry weather allowed for quick advancement of harvest and fieldwork last week. The only measurable moisture was received in the metro area, while the rest of the district remained dry. Limited precipitation allowed for the planting of the 2023 winter wheat crop to progress quicker than normal. Corn for silage harvest progressed quickly last week, moving ahead of the previous year’s pace. Reports from the district show that silage harvest is more than 50% complete in some areas, and the fourth cutting of alfalfa has begun. Proso millet harvest was fully underway in the district, and producers were preparing for the harvest of other spring crops.

In southwestern counties, dry conditions and temperatures more than six degrees above normal were prevalent. The third cutting of alfalfa made significant progress in the district, and the fourth cutting started in some areas in warm, dry conditions. In the San Luis Valley, dry conditions and cooling temperatures are starting to slow crop growth. Reporters note that barley harvest is progressing well, but quality concerns have held up producers selling the crop until more tests can be run. The potato crop looks good, and harvest is now in full swing. 

Southeastern counties received some measurable moisture last week, with southern Prowers and northern Baca Counties receiving almost an inch of rain.

Stored feed supplies were rated 25% very short, 22% short, 50% adequate, and 3% surplus. Sheep death loss was 85% average and 15% light. Cattle death loss was 1% heavy, 83% average, and 16% light. 

U.S. Drought Monitor

USDM reports derive normals/averages from the most recent 30-year period, though longer timescale data are used where available. The USDM generally reports on current drought conditions and offers a comprehensive history of drought across the Continental U.S. 

Near-term temperature and precipitation predictions are derived from the National Weather Service (NWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts.

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

(Aug. 30, 2022) The North American Monsoon continued to provide much-needed rainfall in the Southwest, leading to additional improvements across much of the region. Drought expanded in the Northwest as warm, dry conditions continued across the region, while the Midwest, Southeast, and Northeast saw a mix of improvements and degradations due to locally heavy rain.

High Plains: Warm, dry conditions continued across much of the region, with the Dakotas, Nebraska and Kansas seeing some areas of worsening conditions. In Nebraska and Kansas, all levels of drought expanded as short-term precipitation deficits, on top of long-term dryness, continued to deplete soil moisture and stress vegetation. Exceptional (D4) drought expanded in the southwest, where rainfall deficits of over 3.5 inches have occurred over the last 90 days. Extreme (D3), severe (D2) and moderate (D1) drought expanded in the eastern half of Nebraska, where rainfall deficits of 3 to nearly 7 inches have occurred over the last 90 days. Other areas of Nebraska seeing degradations include north-central Nebraska, where D2 expanded, and the Panhandle, where D1 expanded. Similarly, Kansas also saw large areas of deterioration. In the western half of the state, D1, D2, D3 and D4 expanded where rainfall deficits near 5 inches occurred over the last 90 days. In the east, improvements were made to D1, where the heaviest rain fell over the last 2 weeks. Improvements were also made in eastern South Dakota to D1 along a band of heavy rain last week.

West: The North American Monsoon continued to provide excellent rainfall in the Southwest. Many areas in the region only receive about five inches of rain annually, but a few spots have nearly equaled this annual average in the last two weeks alone. Drought conditions improved in areas receiving the heaviest rain. Many drought indicators, including soil moisture, streamflow and well data, are responding to the rainfall. Improvements were made to moderate (D1) and severe (D2) drought in Arizona, extreme (D3) drought in Southern California and eastern Utah, and D2 and D3 conditions in eastern New Mexico. To the north, Montana saw an expansion to abnormally dry (D0) and D1 areas as conditions began to deteriorate rapidly. Low rainfall, combined with high evaporative demand, has lowered streamflow and stressed vegetation there.

Near-term forecast: The 6-10-day outlook favors above-normal temperatures across most of the continental U.S. Below-normal to normal temperatures are predicted across southern Arizona, southern New Mexico and West Texas. Below-normal precipitation is favored across much of the northern tier of the continental U.S., while normal to above-normal precipitation is favored for the rest of the continental U.S. Below-normal precipitation is expected across parts of the Pacific Northwest, the Intermountain West, and parts of the Midwest and Northeast.

Terminology: EDDI – Evaporative Demand Drought Index. This is an experimental model for drought prediction, using nationwide data from 1980-present. SPE – 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 http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu.

© 2022-Business Farmer

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