KIMBALL – Don’t forget to spring forward this weekend -- Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday morning, March 12, at 2 a.m., so set your clocks ahead at bedtime on Saturday.
March certainly came in like a lion. The first three days of the month were cool and blustery, with chill north winds blowing down from the recently deposited snowfields in Banner and Scotts Bluff counties.
Saturday and Sunday were warm and mild, but the blustery weather returned with a vengeance on Monday, March 6 and continued the next day. At Kimball winds were sustained at 40 mph and peak gusts were hitting 64 mph. As this is written the forecast is for warming air temperatures but continued windy conditions through the weekend.
Signs of El Niño
This week forecasters continued to predict that another strong El Niño pattern will affect the weather across North America in 2017.
During the last 10 days of February sea temperatures in the eastern Equatorial Pacific off the coast of Peru were measured at plus 2.3 degrees Celsius. This kind of ocean warming in this location often indicates the onset of El Niño conditions. It’s worth keeping in mind that accurate sea temperature records for the region only go back to 1990, and that we don’t have a comprehensive understanding of the ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) mechanism. It looks as if we’ll see El Niño this year, but we won’t know for certain until and unless the pattern develops.
As we begin the month of March forecasters are generally favoring the El Niño scenario over neutral or La Niña conditions. Predictions are pointing toward a July or August onset, according to the U.S. Climate Prediction Center.
With neutral ENSO conditions prevailing until summer we could actually be dry across the High Plains through spring and early summer, so it’s best not to count too heavily on abundant spring moisture until it actually arrives.
Warmer conditions are expected to prevail through the weekend and into mid-week. Forecasters anticipate windy conditions to continue at least through Monday. Skies are expected to be mostly sunny. Daytime high temperatures should range in the 50’s to 60’s, with overnight lows falling to near the freezing mark. As of the March 7 forecast, there is a slight chance of rain tonight (Friday) and tomorrow, but no other precipitation was expected through March 14.
Air temperatures warmed across the region last week. At Kimball the Feb. 28-March 6 daytime high averaged 51.71 degrees, about 9 degrees warmer than the previous week. The weekly high temperature was 69 degrees on March 4. Overnight lows averaged 23.57 degrees, about 6 degrees warmer than the previous week. The weekly low temperature was 20 degrees on March 2-3. The weekly mean temperature was 37.64 degrees, just over 7 degrees warmer than the previous week and just over a degree warmer than the March average of 36.0 degrees. The long term average high and low temperatures for March at Kimball are 49.8 and 22.2, respectively.
None of the 13 Panhandle stations reported precipitation over the February 28-March 6 period. Precipitation averaged 0.00 inches for the week, compared to the 30-year average of 0.20 inches. Since April 1, 2016, Panhandle precipitation stands at 96 percent of the 30-year average, ranging from 125 percent at Alliance to 59 percent at Sidney 3 S. Since October 1, 2016, Panhandle precipitation stands at 90 percent of the 30-year average, ranging from 124 percent at Hemingford to 41 percent at Sidney 3 S.
Soil temperatures across the Panhandle for the February 28-March 6 period: Alliance 33.9 degrees; Gordon 33.4 degrees; Mitchell 33.4 degrees; Scottsbluff 34.3 degrees; and Sidney 34.5 degrees.
Winds near Kimball averaged west-northwesterly and sometimes very breezy over the February 28-March 6 period. Gusts for the week averaged 38.28 mph. High gust for the week was 62 mph on March 6.
Here’s an overview of March 10 temperature and precipitation highs, lows, and averages over the preceding 123 years at Kimball. Data is taken from the High Plains Regional Climate Center (www.hprcc.unl.edu), where you can easily find and track data for your own particular location.
Last year (March 10, 2016): Daily high temperature 55 degrees, overnight low 25 degrees, average temperature 40.0 degrees. Precipitation zero, snowfall zero, snow depth zero.
The warmest March 10 on record was 79 degrees in 1972. The coolest March 10 high temperature was 9 degrees in 1948. The coldest March 10 overnight low was -11 degrees in 1948. The warmest March 10 overnight low was 40 degrees in 1900. Over the years since 1893 the high temperature on March 10 has averaged 48 degrees, the overnight low 22 degrees, the daily average 34.7 degrees, precipitation has averaged 0.03 inches, snowfall 0.3 inches, snow depth zero inches.
The highest March 10 precipitation recorded over the last 123 years was 0.60 inches in 1912.
Snow has fallen on March 10 at Kimball 29 times over the last 123 years. The greatest March 10 snowfall was 8.0 inches in 1988. Measurable March 10 snow depth was reported in 23 of the last 123 years. The greatest March 10 snow depth was 8.0 inches in 1968.
U.S. Drought Monitor
(March 7) Central-Northern Plains: Bands of precipitation fell across the Central to Northern Plains. Much of Kansas and parts of the Dakotas received a tenth of an inch or less of precipitation, while a snowstorm dropped 0.3-1.0 inch of precipitation across parts of Nebraska and southwest South Dakota. D1 expanded across eastern Kansas, while D0-D1 contracted in northwest Nebraska and western South Dakota. According to February 27 USDA reports, 56% of the subsoil and 55% of the topsoil in Kansas, and 30% of the subsoil and 25% of the topsoil in Nebraska, were short to very short of moisture, while 21% of the winter wheat in Kansas was in poor to very poor condition.
National Summary: Several weather systems traversed the contiguous U.S. (CONUS) in the fast-moving upper-level flow during this U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) week. Upper-level troughs, surface fronts, and surface low pressure systems brought above-normal precipitation to parts of the Southwest, parts of the Pacific Northwest to Great Lakes, and parts of the Southeast, Upper Ohio Valley, and Northeast. But the speed and tracks of the weather systems left much of California and other parts of the West, most of the Central to Southern Plains, parts of the Southeast and Northeast, much of the Mid-Mississippi Valley, and Mid-Atlantic coast drier than normal.
Temperatures averaged cooler than normal in the West under the influence of the troughs, while the dominance of ridging east of the Rockies resulted in above-normal temperatures. As noted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the persistence of the unseasonably warm weather east of the Rockies has ushered winter wheat out of dormancy up to a month ahead of normal. The warm temperatures and unusually early green up have increased evapotranspiration and heightened the need for soil moisture in areas wrestling with winter-time drought, at a time when crop-water demands are typically minimal.
As reported by the National Weather Service, vegetation has responded rapidly to the unusually warm temperatures, with flowers and trees blooming or in full bloom across east-central Georgia and central South Carolina. Drought conditions continued to improve in California, as the hydrologic systems responded to the precipitation of recent weeks and months, and in the Northeast. Drought and abnormally dry conditions expanded from the Southern Plains and Midwest to the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic coast, reflecting precipitation shortages that have developed over the last one to three months as well as, in the Southeast, worsening hydrological conditions and long-term dryness.
For more information on the U.S. Drought Monitor visit: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu
U.S. Conditions and Weather Report
(March 7) Most of California got a reprieve from stormy weather, although early-week downpours soaked areas along and near the southern coast. Toward week’s end, widespread but generally light precipitation returned to
Early-week storminess also brought briefly heavy rain and snow to parts of Arizona and the Four Corners region.
Meanwhile, periods of precipitation continued across the Northwest, but mostly dry weather prevailed on the Plains. The central and southern Plains experienced a corresponding increase in wildfire activity.
Farther east, widespread showers and locally severe thunderstorms affected the South, East, and Midwest, with 1- to 2-inch totals occurring in several locations.
On Feb. 28, a rash of several dozen tornadoes across the Midwest and mid-South resulted in at least four fatalities—three in Illinois and one in Missouri.
On March 1, weakening storms swept across the eastern U.S., producing only light rain and localized wind damage.
Later, end-of-week rainfall brought beneficial moisture to Deep South Texas.
Temperatures were lower than last week but still significantly above normal in much of the central and eastern U.S., averaging as much as 10 degrees above normal in the middle Mississippi Valley
In contrast, lingering cool conditions in the West held temperatures at least 5 degrees below normal in several locations.
Another wave of early-season warmth across the central and eastern U.S. peaked on February 28 and March 1, followed by more typical late-winter temperatures.
In the eastern U.S., a late-week cold snap brought widespread sub-freezing temperatures as far south as northern parts of Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. While freezes are not unusual across the Southeast in early March, the record-setting warmth that preceded the cold snap left some fruit, ornamental, and nursery crops vulnerable to freeze injury.
Weather and Crop Reports
Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado
Weekly Crop Progress and Condition reports have ended for the 2016 growing season. Monthly reports will be issued December through March on the first Monday of the month. Weekly reports will resume April 3 for the