Slow warming and scattered precipitation follow last week’s spring snow


KIMBALL – The weather conditions which followed the May 1-2 snowstorm were quite beneficial to the very dry south Panhandle region and many surrounding areas. Partly cloudy skies scattered light rain, and a slow warming allowed much of the 8-plus inches of snow to gradually infiltrate thirsty soil, preventing much of the runoff which would have occurred had the moisture come as rain only.

Cloudiness and cooler temperatures slightly slowed plant biomass production, but the greenup was beginning to take off nicely by Tuesday, setting the stage for some rapid growth as temperatures were expected to rise into the 80’s later in the week.

Cool season grasses were greening nicely across pastures and rangelands and the earliest of the season’s wildflowers were beginning to add small splashes of color to the scenery.

Cool temperatures and still-wet soils slowed spring fieldwork, though by Tuesday many producers were getting into the field.

Winter wheat stands were greening nicely but were also showing the patchy appearance of drought stress and winterkill in many places.

Regional Forecast and Conditions

As of Tuesday morning (May 10), the temperature at sunrise was 38 degrees under partly cloudy skies. Winds were calm and the barometer was rising at 30.08 inches of mercury (in/Hg).

Today’s weather (Friday, May 13) forecast to be mostly sunny and breezy with an expected high of 72 degrees falling off to around 39 degrees overnight. Day length will be 14 hours and 25 minutes, night length 9 hours and 35 minutes.

Saturday and Sunday are also expected to be sunny and breezy, with daytime highs ranging in the low- to mid-70’s and overnight lows falling to just below 40 degrees.

The Monday-Wednesday forecast calls for a chance of afternoon and evening thunderstorms, mostly sunny skies and breezy conditions. Daytime highs are expected to range in the mid- to upper-70’s while overnight lows should fall into the mid-40’s.

At Kimball the May 3-9 daytime high averaged 64.42 degrees, about 2.0 degrees warmer than last week. The weekly high temperature was 83 degrees on May 7. Overnight lows averaged 38.85 degrees, about 7.28 degrees warmer than last week. The weekly low temperature was 28 degrees on May 3. The weekly mean temperature at Kimball was 51.64 degrees, about 14.64 degrees warmer than last week and 3.36 degrees cooler than the May average of 55.0 degrees. The long-term average high and low temperatures at Kimball for May are 69.3 and 40.7, respectively.

Kimball received 0.13 inches of rain on May 8, which was the total for the May 3-9 period. 

Winds near Kimball averaged west southwesterly and occasionally breezy over the May 3-9 period. Gusts for the week averaged 30.71 mph. High gust for the week was 88 mph on May 7.

Historic climate data

Here’s an overview of May 13 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 (May 13, 2021): Daily high temperature 72 degrees, overnight low 36 degrees, average temperature 54.0 degrees. Precipitation zero inches, snowfall zero inches, snow depth zero inches.

The warmest May 13 on record was 90 degrees in 1941. The coolest May 13 high temperature was 36 degrees in 1907. The coldest May 13 overnight low was 25 degrees in 2000. The warmest May 13 overnight low was 60 degrees in 1988. Over the years since 1893 the high temperature on May 13 has averaged 66 degrees, the overnight low 38 degrees, the daily average 52.2 degrees, precipitation has averaged 0.09 inches, snowfall 0.1 inches, snow depth zero inches.

The highest May 13 precipitation total was 1.25 inches (rain/snow) in 1961. Highest snowfall was 1 inch in 1961 and 2004; highest snow depth was 1 inch in 2004.

USDA Weekly Weather Bulletin

A southward shift in the primary storm track brought drier weather to the north-central U.S., although lingering wet fields and cool conditions continued to hamper spring planting activities. Lowland flooding persisted in the Red River Valley, as a secondary crest moved northward along the Minnesota-North Dakota border. 

Two rounds of significant precipitation spread from the central and southeastern Plains into the mid-South, Ohio Valley, and middle Atlantic States, curtailing fieldwork. Widespread river flooding developed across eastern Oklahoma, where weekly rainfall broadly totaled 4 inches or more, and portions of neighboring states. Warm, mostly dry weather in many other areas, including the Southwest and much of the Southeast, favored fieldwork and a rapid pace of crop development.

The nation’s drought-stricken southwestern quadrant, stretching from California to the southern High Plains, continued to deal with a variety of impacts, including water supply issues, poor rangeland and crop conditions, and dangerous early-season wildfires. In addition, a late-week heat surge sent temperatures skyrocketing to 100 degrees or higher across much of western, central, and southern Texas, further aggravating the effects of an already punishing drought. 

Weekly temperatures averaged 5 to 10 degrees above normal from the southern half of Texas to Georgia and the Carolinas. In contrast, chilly air across the nation’s midsection—accompanied by clouds and widespread rain—held temperatures at least 5°F below normal from the central Plains into the central Corn Belt. 

USDA Crop Progress Reports

Nebraska – For the week ending May 8, 2022, there were 2.3 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 13 percent very short, 23 percent short, 62 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 24 percent very short, 35 percent short, 40 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus.

Corn planted was 39 percent, well behind 67 percent last year, and behind 57 percent for the five-year average. Emerged was 4 percent, behind 11 percent last year and 12 percent average. Soybeans planted was 28 percent, behind 43 percent last year, and near 29 percent average. Emerged was 1 percent, near 3 percent last year and 2 percent average. Winter wheat condition rated 14 percent very poor, 17 percent poor, 36 percent fair, 29 percent good, and 4 percent excellent. Sorghum planted was 2 percent, near 5 percent last year, and behind 7 percent average. Oats planted was 90 percent, behind 96 percent last year, but near 88 percent average. Emerged was 62 percent, behind 79 percent last year, and near 63 percent average. 

Pasture and range conditions rated 35 percent very poor, 28 percent poor, 24 percent fair, 12 percent good, and 1 percent excellent.

Wyoming – For the week ending May 8, 2022, there were above average temperatures across most of Wyoming. Temperatures were highest in the northern portions of the State, while areas of the southeast experienced below average temperatures. Rainfall totals varied, but in most portions of the State precipitation was below normal. In outlying areas of the northwest and southeast, however, averages were above normal. Isolated areas of central Wyoming benefitted the most with as much as 2.0 inches of rain and above.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor for May 5, 2022, the amount of land rated as abnormally dry was 5.9 percent, unchanged from last week. Moderate drought was present across 38.4 percent of the State, an increase of 3.2 percentage points from 35.2 percent last week. Severe drought covered 47.6 percent of the State, compared to 40.6 percent last week. Extreme drought conditions improved, falling to 8.1 percent of the state compared to 18.3 percent last week.

Precipitation amounts varied in Big Horn County where northern portions of the County remained extremely dry. Only 0.40 inches of moisture were reportedly received in northern areas since the start of the year.

Reports from Goshen County indicated precipitation replenished soils though moisture was insufficient and too late for some farmers. High winds once again dried fields.

In Laramie County, rains revitalized struggling crops. Soil moisture levels held for a while until high winds returned and dried fields and ranges.

Comments from Lincoln County indicated cool and wet conditions, as subsoil remained cold, and lands were too wet for field activities. Grasses and alfalfa were growing, with concerns alfalfa might still be affected by frost.

In Niobrara County, crop and rangeland conditions improved from the snow and rain. Stock water supplies also benefited from the moisture and a report indicated a high number of livestock were killed due to the snowstorm that occurred April 23, 2022.

Comments from Platte County indicated good moisture alleviated the drought that has lingered for over 10 months. Pastures were greening and winter wheat was growing well. Farmers were planting spring crops and were expected to tap into irrigation water soon.

In Weston County, forage was greening but short due to poor growing conditions.

Irrigation water supplies were rated 3 percent very poor, 28 percent poor, 52 percent fair, and 17 percent good, compared to 3 percent very poor, 31 percent poor, 43 percent fair, and 23 percent good last week. Stock water supplies across Wyoming were rated 25 percent very short, 32 percent short, 42 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus, compared to 20 percent very short, 29 percent short, and 51 percent adequate last week.

Cattle death loss was rated as 10 percent heavy, 57 percent average, and 33 percent light. Sheep death loss was rated as 4 percent heavy, 57 percent average, and 39 percent light.

Colorado – For the week ending May 8, 2022, windy conditions, minimal moisture, and warm temperatures were seen across most of the State.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 91 percent of the State is under drought conditions, up 2 percentage points from last week. Forty-eight percent of the State is experiencing severe to exceptional drought conditions and extreme drought conditions are affecting 4 percent of the State, both unchanged from the previous week.

In northeastern and east central counties, precipitation improved winter wheat conditions, but in return, delayed corn planting. These counties saw a reprieve from windy conditions early in the week, but strong winds were back over the weekend, reaching close to 50 miles per hour in many areas.

In Southwestern counties, high winds continued. The area saw one moisture event, but no measurable moisture was received.

In the San Luis Valley, barley and potato planting progressed quickly due to favorable planting conditions. A reporter noted grasses are slow to green up due to lack of moisture. Lambing and calving continue to progress well and are almost complete.

The southeastern counties received minimal moisture last week. Smoke from fires in Arizona and New Mexico is affecting air quality in the southern part of the State.

Overall, across the state, calving and lambing continued with few issues and are winding down, with 96 percent of cows calved and 98 percent ewes lambed. Stored feed supplies were rated 17 percent very short, 23 percent short, and 60 percent adequate. Sheep death loss was 89 percent average and 11 percent light. Cattle death loss was 1 percent heavy, 91 percent average, and 8 percent light

As of May 8, 2022, snowpack in Colorado was 72 percent measured as percent of median snowfall, down 4 percentage points from the previous week. The Southwest and San Luis Valley were 25 and 14 percent, respectively.

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 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 -- abnormally dry. D1 -- moderate drought. D2 -- severe drought. D3 -- extreme drought. D4 -- exceptional drought.

(May 3, 2022) The week was marked by ongoing active weather across areas of the conterminous U.S. including the Pacific Northwest, Northern Rockies, Plains, Lower Midwest, and isolated areas of the South and Southeast. The most severe weather was observed across the Central Plains and areas of the Midwest where numerous tornadoes touched down in areas including eastern Kansas, southeastern Nebraska, and northern Illinois. Widespread heavy rainfall accumulations were also observed, ranging from 2 to 7 inches, with the heaviest accumulations in eastern Nebraska. The rainfall events provided much-needed moisture to the region-boosting soil moisture levels across parched areas from Kansas to South Dakota.

On the water-resource front, the Colorado River Basin water situation continues to deteriorate due to the long-term impacts of drought with water levels at Lake Powell and Lake Mead currently at 24 percent full and 31 percent full, respectively. In terms of this week’s map, short-term precipitation led to targeted improvements in the Pacific Northwest, Central Plains, South, and the Southeast, while degradations were registered in the Southwest, Texas, Southeast, and the Mid-Atlantic.

High Plains: On this week’s map, widespread improvements were made in South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas in response to significant rainfall accumulations that helped to improve soil moisture levels and boosted streamflow levels. Rainfall totals for the week ranged from 2 to 8+ inches with the highest totals observed in central South Dakota, eastern and central Nebraska, and northern Kansas. However, some drought-stricken areas of the region, including extreme southeastern South Dakota, northeastern Nebraska, and central Kansas, largely missed out on this week’s storms. Average temperatures were below normal across the northern half of the region, with negative departures ranging from 2 to 10+ degrees below normal and the greatest departures observed in eastern portions of the Dakotas. In the southern half of the region, average temperatures were 2 to 8 degrees above normal.

West: In the West, several storm systems moved through the northern tier of the region bringing light to moderate snowfall accumulations to the higher elevations of the Cascades, northern Great Basin, and the Central and Northern Rockies as well as light rainfall to coastal areas and low-lying inland valleys of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Improvements were made in areas of Moderate Drought (D1), Severe Drought (D2), Extreme Drought (D3), and Exceptional Drought (D4) in Oregon in response to a combination of factors including normal to above-normal SWE, recent storm events, and improved soil moisture levels and stream flows. Likewise, improving conditions in northern Wyoming led to removal of areas of Extreme Drought (D3) in the Big Horn Mountains where current SWE is 108 percent of median.

Elsewhere, conditions deteriorated on the map in northwestern Arizona and across much of New Mexico. Looking at snowpack data across the West at a regional scale, the NRCS SNOTEL network reported median SWE levels as: Pacific Northwest 111 percent, Missouri 99 percent, Souris-Red-Rainy 116 percent, California 60 percent, Great Basin 62 percent, Upper Colorado 76 percent, Arkansas-White-Red 50 percent, Lower Colorado 36 percent, and Rio Grande 33 percent.

According to NRCS National Water and Climate Center’s reservoir summary report of April 1, statewide reservoir storage levels were below normal in all western states with exception of Washington state. In California, the state’s two largest reservoirs are at critically low levels moving into the dry season with Shasta Lake currently at 40 percent of total capacity and Lake Oroville at 55 percent of capacity. In the Colorado River Basin, Lake Powell was at 24 percent of capacity and Lake Mead 31 percent of capacity on May 3. In the Rio Grande Basin, New Mexico’s Elephant Butte Reservoir was 13 percent full.

Near-term forecast: The 6–10-day outlook calls for a moderate-to-high probability of above-normal temperatures across the eastern two-thirds of the conterminous U.S. with exception of some coastal areas of the Mid-Atlantic and Florida. Below-normal temperatures are expected across much of the West with exception of eastern portions of Colorado and New Mexico where there is a low-to-moderate probability of above-normal temperatures.

In terms of precipitation, the wetter-than-normal pattern is expected to persist across the northern tier of the West as well as in areas of the Great Plains. In coastal areas of the Far West, near-normal precipitation is expected. Across much of the eastern half of the conterminous U.S., including areas of the Southern Plains, Lower Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and the Northeast, there is a moderate-to-high probability of below-normal precipitation.

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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