Localized rains as spring continues to unfold

© 2017-Business Farmer

KIMBALL – Conditions were mostly clear and dry across the Tri-state region last week as springtime continued to gain ground. Scattered thunderstorms delivered light, localized rain to some areas while other areas were remained dry.
Warming temperatures, lengthening days and more direct sunshine prompted the flush of cool season grasses across pastures and rangelands, while early season forbs were taking off and deciduous trees and shrubs were leafing out.
Many producers managed to get into the field to prepare for spring planting. Winter wheat stands continued growing and, for the most part, seemed to avoid freeze damage when the mercury dipped below 32 degrees on April 13 and 17.

Regional Forecast and Conditions
As of Tuesday, April 18, conditions were warm and pleasant and expected to remain so until Thursday evening, when a moisture-bearing system was expected to move into the Tri-state region. The Friday forecast calls for widespread rain and cooler temperatures. Skies are expected to clear on Saturday and warmer, breezy conditions should prevail through mid-week.
Daytime highs are forecast in the mid-40’s Saturday with overnight lows falling to near freezing. Saturday through Wednesday highs should reach into the 50’s-70’s with plenty of sunshine, while overnight lows are expected to fall into the upper 30’s to low 40’s. Chance of precipitation across the region Friday is in the 80-100 percent range but only a slight chance of rain is expected Saturday through Thursday.
Warmer temperatures dominated across the region last week. At Kimball the April 11-17 daytime high averaged 70.85 degrees, about 9 degrees warmer than the previous week. The weekly high temperature was 76 degrees on April 13. Overnight lows averaged 37.71 degrees, about 4 degrees warmer than the previous week. The weekly low temperature was 27 degrees on April 11. The weekly mean temperature was 54.28 degrees, about 7 degrees warmer than the previous week and 11 degrees warmer than the April average of 45.2 degrees. The long term average high and low temperatures at Kimball for April are 59.6 and 30.9 degrees, respectively.
Five of 13 Panhandle stations reported precipitation over the April 11-17 period, ranging from 0.06 inches at Lodgepole to 0.02 inches at Kimball, Scottsbluff and Sidney 3S. The remaining eight stations reported zero precipitation for the week. Panhandle precipitation averaged 0.01 inches for the week, compared to the 30-year average of 0.50 inches. Since April 1 Panhandle precipitation stands at 64 percent of the 30-year average, ranging from 171 percent at Chadron to 11 percent at Scottsbluff. Since October 1, 2016, Panhandle precipitation stands at 100 percent of the 30-year average, ranging from 148 percent at Alliance to 43 percent at Sidney 3 S.
Soil temperatures ranged from 5.2-6.4 degrees warmer than the previous week across the Panhandle for the April 11-17 period. April 10 soil temperatures (this week/last week/change): Alliance 53.8/47.3 (+6.5) degrees; Gordon 54.4/48.0 (+6.4) degrees; Mitchell 56.3/50.0 (+6.3) degrees; Scottsbluff 54.9/NA (+0.00); and Sidney 56.1/48.3 (+5.2) degrees.
Winds near Kimball averaged south-southeasterly and occasionally breezy over the April 11-17 period. Gusts for the week averaged 32.14mph. High gust for the week was 40 mph on
April 14.

April 21 Weather Almanac
Last year, April 21, 2016: Daily high temperature 55 degrees, overnight low 32 degrees, average temperature 43.5 degrees. Precipitation 0.00 inches, snowfall zero inches, snow depth
zero inches.
The warmest April 21 on record was 85 degrees in 1994. The coolest April 21 high temperature was 33 degrees in 1984. The coldest April 21 overnight low was 13 degrees in 1982. The warmest April 21 overnight low was 47 degrees in 1926. Over the years since 1893 the high temperature on April 21 has averaged 60 degrees, the overnight low 32 degrees, the daily average 45.8 degrees, precipitation has averaged 0.07 inches, snowfall 0.2 inches, snow depth zero inches.
The highest April 21 precipitation recorded over the last 123 years was 0.95 inches in 2005.
Snow has fallen on April 21 at Kimball 18 times over the last 123 years. The greatest April 21 snowfall was 7.0 inches in 1984. Measurable April 21 snow depth was reported in 6 of the last 123 years. The greatest April 21 snow depth was 5.0 inches
in 1945.

U.S. Drought Monitor April 4, 2017
The Plains: The dryness/drought area over the northern Plains was re-configured this week, after a regional reassessment of conditions. The moderate drought (D1) area was shifted a bit to the west into northeastern Wyoming. This re-configuration reflects the recent precipitation that has been beneficial at the start of the growing season, and is focused primarily on the past 30-60 days. In addition, D0 was expanded in southwestern North Dakota to include the counties of Hettinger, Grant, Adams, and western Sioux.
In southwestern Kansas, where generous rains (4-7 inches) fell during the past 30-days, a one-category improvement was made to the depiction. In contrast, where 1.5-3.5 inches fell during the same period, a one-category degradation was rendered to the depiction in northwestern and north-central Kansas.
Several small-scale improvements were also made in eastern Colorado this week, including the removal of severe drought (D2) in north-central portions of the state, and much of the nearby D1 area.
National Summary: Moderate to heavy precipitation (generally 0.5-3.0 inches, locally greater) was widespread across the contiguous U.S. (CONUS) during the past 7-days, with the notable exception of the Southwest and the southern High Plains region. There were also numerous reports of severe weather over the central and eastern CONUS, and strong winds over portions of the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies on April 7.


U.S. Conditions and Weather Report April 18, 2017
Periods of rain maintained a slow fieldwork pace in the Midwest, hampering early-season corn planting efforts.
There was a general northward shift in where the heaviest rain fell, with only light precipitation falling in much of the southern
Corn Belt.
Significant rain also fell across parts of the nation’s midsection, especially from South Dakota to Texas.
In general, showers continued to benefit the Plains’ rangeland, pastures, and winter grains, as well as reduce the areal coverage of lingering drought.
Warm, mostly dry weather covered the Southwest and Southeast, promoting fieldwork and a rapid crop development pace.
In areas experiencing drought, including Florida’s peninsula, warm, dry conditions maintained heavy irrigation demands and resulted in an increase in
wildfire activity.
Elsewhere, cool, showery weather limited fieldwork and slowed crop growth in northern California and the Northwest, where weekly temperatures averaged as much as 5 degrees
below normal.
In contrast, temperatures averaged at least 10 degrees above normal in the central and eastern Corn Belt, as well as portions of
neighboring regions.
Despite the overall warm regime, a push of cool air across the Plains on April 10-11 resulted in widespread freezes as far south as eastern Colorado and
northern Kansas.

Western U.S. Water Supply Forecast
Stormy weather retreated into the Northwest for much of March, while warm, dry weather prevailed from southern California into the Southwest. As a result, some Northwestern river basins came close to matching the impressive snow accumulations that had already occurred across the middle one-third of the West, stretching from the Sierra Nevada to the Wasatch Range. In contrast, snow melted early in the Southwest, reducing runoff prospects in parts of Arizona and New Mexico. In late March and the first half of April, showery weather continued in the Northwest but returned to northern California. Cool weather accompanied the late-season storminess, allowing snowpack to further build across the Sierra Nevada and higher elevations of the Northwest. By April 18, the Sierra Nevada snowpack contained an average of 48 inches of water.

Snowpack and Precipitation
By April 18, most basins in the middle one-third of the West – from the Sierra Nevada into western Wyoming – were reporting well above normal snowpack for the time of year. In contrast, many Southwestern basins had already lost most or all of their snow due to recent and ongoing warmth. Meanwhile, many Northwestern basins experienced late-season improvements in snowpack, with water content topping 150 percent of average in parts of Oregon.
Season-to-date precipitation through April 18, 2017 was near or above normal throughout the West. Amid an overall impressive Western winter wet season, precipitation totals have been truly exceptional—at least 200 percent of normal—in the Sierra Nevada.

Spring and Summer Streamflow Forecasts
By April 1, 2017, projections for spring and summer streamflow were indicating the likelihood of near- or above-normal runoff in most Western watersheds. In particular, runoff in excess of 180 percent of average can be expected in many basins across the northern Intermountain West and from the Sierra Nevada to the Wasatch Range. In contrast, runoff volumes of less than 90 percent of average should occur in scattered watersheds in southwestern Montana and the central and
southern Rockies.

Reservoir Storage
On April 1 reservoir storage as a percent of average for the date was near or above average in all Western States except New Mexico and Washington. New Mexico’s low storage was a combination of several factors, including the lingering effects of a multi-decadal drought and overtaxed water supplies. Hydrologically, Washington has few concerns, and in fact continued to prepare for robust spring and summer runoff by keeping some reservoirs low. Meanwhile, California’s April 1 statewide storage stood at 113 percent of average, down from 122 percent a month earlier, as reservoir managers released water to prepare for the tremendous inflow that will accompany snow-melt runoff during the next several months.

USDA Weekly Weather and Crop Reports

Colorado
Spring fieldwork advanced this past week with drier conditions throughout the state. Counties where temperatures were warmer with high winds saw a decline in soil moisture.
Reporters noted pasture and crop conditions in areas that received needed moisture earlier in the month continue to respond positively. However, warm and dry conditions hasten the need for more precipitation soon.
Planting is well underway for several crops, with calving and lambing progressing well for livestock producers.
As of April 17, snowpack in Colorado was at 96 percent measured as percent of median snowfall. The Southwest and San Luis Valley were 113 and 104
percent, respectively.
Stored feed supplies were rated 4 percent short, 85 percent adequate, 11
percent surplus.
Sheep death loss was 32 percent average and 68 percent light. Cattle death loss was 1 percent heavy, 74 percent average, 25 percent light.Nebraska
For the week ending April 16, 2017, temperatures averaged four to six degrees above normal. Rainfall of an inch or more was limited to portions of the eastern half of the State. Dry soil moisture conditions continued in southwestern Nebraska.
The first fields of corn were planted, however, fieldwork in most areas was limited to spring tillage and fertilizer application. There were 4.8 days suitable for fieldwork.
Topsoil moisture supplies rated 5 percent very short, 18 short, 74 adequate, and 3 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 23 short, 68 adequate, and 2 surplus.
Corn planted was 3 percent, near 6 last year, and equal to the five-year average.
Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 8 poor, 38 fair, 46 good, and 7 excellent. Winter wheat jointed was 7 percent, behind 17 last year and 13 average.
Oats planted was 70 percent, near 68 last year and 66 average. Oats emerged was 26 percent, ahead of 20 last year, and near 22 average.
Cattle and calf conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 0 poor, 15 fair, 71 good, and 14 excellent. Calving progress was 82 percent complete, near 84 last year and 83 average. Cattle and calf death loss rated 1 percent heavy, 65 average, and 34 light.
Sheep and lamb conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 22 fair, 68 good, and 9 excellent. Sheep and lamb death loss rated 1 percent heavy, 74 average, and 25 light.
Hay and roughage supplies rated 1 percent very short, 4 short, 91 adequate, and 4 surplus.
Stock water supplies rated 1 percent very short, 5 short, 93 adequate, and 1 surplus.

Wyoming
Wyoming experienced warmer than normal temperatures for the week. Twenty-eight out of 34 stations reported above average temperatures for the week with the high temperature of 81 degrees recorded at Sheridan and a low of 5 degrees at Lake Yellowstone.
Eleven stations reported no precipitation as 28 of the 34 stations had less than average precipitation. Afton had the most precipitation with 0.53 inches.
A reporter in North Central Wyoming indicated that a spring storm delayed farm work but by the end of the week tractors were able to get back in the field.
A reporter from Northeastern Wyoming reported that they are in need of another good rain to keep grass sustained and growing. The reporter also indicated wind and warm temperatures have dried up existing soil moisture.
A reporter from Western Wyoming indicated that they had good drying weather but the ground is still pretty wet.
One reporter from Southwest Wyoming commented that the weather has been good throughout the week with livestock in good condition and plenty of green grass.
A reporter from South Central Wyoming stated that although they have had spring storms they have not gotten enough moisture to make all of the soils at adequate in moisture levels.
A reporter from Southeast Wyoming reported topsoil is drying out with little to no moisture over the past week. Another reporter from Southeast Wyoming noted that the winds have been a little less this week helping with soil moisture retention. They also reported that calving and lambing have benefited from the milder weather.
Stock water supplies across Wyoming were rated 7 percent very short, 12 percent short, 68 percent adequate, and 13 percent surplus.


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