Spring green-up slows with cool air temps and additional snowfall

KIMBALL, Neb. – Typically breezy springtime conditions followed hard on the heels of the April 13-14 snowstorm. Air temperatures warmed somewhat but remained several degrees below the regional long-term average for April.

Winds shifted from northwesterly to southeasterly on the evening of Thursday, April 19 presaging the arrival of another moisture bearing weather system. Friday was cool and cloudy with intermittent light rain and mist and continued relatively brisk southeast winds. Wind velocity abated near sunset of Friday and light but steady rain began to fall. The rain continued overnight, shifting to snow at around 3 a.m. as air temperatures fell to near the freezing mark. Saturday remained cool and wet, and the weather system finally departed about mid-morning on Sunday, having delivered 2.5 inches of snow and a total of three-tenths liquid moisture.

Sunday and Monday, April 22-23, were more spring-like but averaged about five degrees cooler than the April average. Monday evening saw thunderstorms develop as the front edge of a weather front arrived. Kimball recorded about a quarter-inch of rain Monday evening before temperatures began to fall in the wake of the thunderstorm and by early Tuesday morning a light rain/snow mix was falling.

Regional Forecast and Conditions

As of Tuesday morning (April 24), the temperature at sunrise was 33 degrees. Sky conditions were overcast and a light rain/snow mix was falling. The north wind was sustained 21 mph gusting to 26. The barometer was rising at 30.38 inches of mercury (in/Hg). The day was expected to cool, overcast, and breezy with intermittent light rain and rain/snow mix throughout. North winds were expected to remain quite breezy at 25 sustained gusting to 35 mph. Air temperatures were expected to peak at 43 degrees before falling to an overnight low of 24 degrees. The remainder of the week was forecast to be warming and occasionally breezy in the wake of the departing weather system.

Today’s weather (Friday, April 27) is expected to warming and sunny under clear skies with a high of 67 degrees and an overnight low of 35 degrees. Saturday and Sunday are expected to remain clear, sunny, and warmer, with daytime highs touching 73 degrees and overnight lows falling to about 40. No heavy winds are forecast, but they could develop. As of April 24 no precipitation was forecast for the Friday-Sunday period.

Monday through Wednesday are forecast to remain sunny and warm, with daytime air temperatures ranging in the upper-60’s and overnight lows in the 30’s. As of April 17 there was no precipitation forecast for the Monday-Wednesday period, though forecasters predicted a slight chance of afternoon and evening thunderstorms.

Air temperatures cooled slightly across the region last week. At Kimball the April 17-23 daytime high averaged 56.42 degrees, about 1 degree cooler than the previous week. The weekly high temperature was 67 degrees on April 17. Overnight lows warmed very slightly as well, averaging 30.14, precisely 1 degree warmer than the previous week. The weekly low temperature was 26 degrees on April 19. The weekly mean temperature was 43.28 degrees, about 0.07 degrees cooler than the previous week, and not quite 2 degrees cooler 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, respectively.

Six of 13 selected Panhandle stations reported snow over the April 17-23 period, ranging rom 2.2 inches at Kimball to a tenth of an inch at several locations. Agate, Dalton, Gordon, Hemingford, Scottsbluff, and two Sidney stations reported zero snowfall. Eleven of 13 stations reported precipitation, with liquid equivalent moisture ranging from 0.04 inches at Scottsbluff to 1.08 inches at Alliance. Dalton and Sidney 0.9 NNW reported zero precipitation. Across the Panhandle snowfall averaged 0.3 inches and liquid equivalent precipitation averaged 0.33 inches. Last week’s averages were 3.5 inches and 0.40 inches respectively.

Soil temperatures warmed very slightly at Scottsbluff but fell at other locations across the Panhandle over the April 17-23 period: (this week/last week/change): Alliance 42.2/42.6 (-0.4) degrees; Gordon 37.7/41.8 (-4.1) degrees; Mitchell 44.0/44.3 (-0.3) degrees; Scottsbluff 45.2/45.0 (+0.2); and Sidney 40.0/43.5 (-3.5) degrees.

Winds near Kimball averaged southeasterly and occasionally windy over the April 17-23 period. Gusts for the week averaged 32.57 mph. High gust for the week was 49 mph on April 17.

April 27 Weather Almanac

Here’s an overview of April 27 temperature and precipitation highs, lows, and averages over the preceding 125 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 (April 27, 2017): Daily high temperature 56 degrees, overnight low 30 degrees, average temperature 43.0 degrees. Precipitation 0.21 inches, snowfall zero inches, snow depth zero inches.

The warmest April 27 on record was 95 degrees in 1910. The coolest April 27 high temperature was 36 degrees in 1985. The coldest April 27 overnight low was 19 degrees in 1994. The warmest April 27 overnight low was 50 degrees in 2012. Over the years since 1893 the high temperature on April 27 has averaged 62 degrees, the overnight low 34 degrees, the daily average 47.8 degrees, precipitation has averaged 0.07 inches, snowfall 0.1 inches, snow depth zero inches.

The highest April 27 precipitation total was 1.80 inches liquid equivalent (rain) in 2012. The greatest snowfall was 5.0 inches in 1932. Greatest snow depth was 5.0 inches in 1972 and 1932.

Snow has fallen on April 27 at Kimball 18 times over the last 125 years, with quantities ranging from a trace to 5.0 inches.

U.S. Drought Monitor

National Summary: A powerful spring storm emerged from the West and brought extreme conditions to several regions. For example, historic, late-season snow blanketed portions of the northern Plains, upper Midwest, and Great Lakes region, snarling traffic and severely stressing livestock. Meanwhile, dry, windy weather contributed to a major wildfire outbreak, starting on April 12, and led to blowing dust and further reductions in rangeland, pasture, and crop conditions. Farther east, heavy showers and locally severe thunderstorms swept across portions of the southern and eastern U.S. Elsewhere, unsettled, showery weather lingered in the Northwest, extending as far south as northern California.

High Plains: Heavy snow blanketed portions of the northern Plains, while dry, windy weather dominated drought-affected areas of the
central Plains.

The storm contributed to the elimination of severe drought (D2) from the Dakotas, and brought substantial reductions in the coverage of abnormal dryness (D0) and moderate drought (D1). In South Dakota, 2-day April snowfall records were broken on April 13-14 in Mitchell (16.2 inches) and Huron (15.5 inches), while peak gusts were clocked to 60 and 57 mph, respectively. Sioux Falls, South Dakota, received 14.5 inches of snow from April 13-15, and reported a gust to 67 mph on the 14th. Most of Sioux Falls’ snow—13.7 inches—fell on the 14th, easily becoming the snowiest April day on record in that location (previously, 10.5 inches on April 28, 1994).

Farther south, however, topsoil moisture was rated 72 percent very short to short on April 15 in Kansas, along with 61 percent in Colorado. On the same date, winter wheat in Kansas was rated 46 percent very poor to poor. In Colorado, there was a significant introduction of exceptional drought (D4) into the southwestern corner of the state, where winter snowfall was abysmal and spring and summer runoff prospects are poor.

West: Late-season precipitation continued to move ashore as far south as northern California, resulting in some minor reductions in the coverage of abnormal dryness (D0).

In the Southwest dry, often windy weather resulted in drought persistence or intensification. Arizona’s rangeland and pastures were rated 86 percent very poor to poor on April 15, compared to the 5-year average of 30 percent. On the same date, New Mexico’s rangeland and pastures were rated 50 percent very poor to poor, while winter wheat was rated 68 percent very poor to poor. New Mexico’s topsoil moisture on April 15 was rated 91 percent very short to short. Due to deteriorating agricultural and hydrological conditions, exceptional drought (D4) was expanded in the Four Corners region as well as northeastern New Mexico.

For more information on the U.S. Drought Monitor visit: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu 

U.S. Conditions and Weather Report

The southern High Plains’ second wildfire outbreak in less than a week preceded the arrival of storm system that provided much-needed, but generally light, rainfall. The fires peaked in intensity on April 17, when southwesterly winds fanned flames amid soaring temperatures, but continued into the following day when winds shifted to a northwesterly direction.

Beneficial rain spread across the central and southern Plains starting on April 20. However, rainfall in the most severely drought-affected areas totaled mostly an inch or less. Earlier heavy precipitation had fallen in the eastern U.S.—the tail end of a storm system that had produced historic, mid-April snowfall from South Dakota and environs into the Great Lakes region. A subsequent but smaller storm followed a similar path across the Midwest and Northeast, delivering some additional snow.

Meanwhile, dry weather in the Southwest contrasted with Northwestern rain and snow showers, which briefly reached as far south as the Sierra Nevada and the central Rockies. Elsewhere, unusually cool weather remained in place for much of the week from the Plains to the East Coast, while temperatures were closer to normal across the West. Weekly temperatures averaged at least 10 degrees below normal in the upper Midwest, while freezes occurred on April 15-16 as far south as portions of the southern Plains and mid-South. 

USDA Weekly Weather and Crop Reports


Several counties across the state received needed moisture in the form of rain and snow late in the week, helping to replenish diminishing soil moisture supplies. However, areas stricken by persistent drought conditions unfortunately remained dry, particularly southern counties.

Reporters in northeastern counties noted corn planting began last week and welcome moisture was received. Concerns remained for non-irrigated crop and pastureland conditions still behind on moisture thus far.

In east central counties, extremely high winds were reported again last week, contributing to grave fire danger and blowing of loose soil. Moisture received late in the week helped drought-stressed winter wheat, but much more is needed going forward. Producers faced difficulty spraying fields due to consistent
high winds.

Southwestern counties missed out on much of the moisture and drought conditions worsened. Reporters noted hay supplies remained short and that producers were beginning to actively cull livestock in response to dire conditions. Low reservoir levels and dry stock ponds were also chief concerns going

The San Luis Valley received spotty precipitation, and high winds earlier in the week contributed to blowing soil and damaged structures. A reporter noted lower than normal water supplies reduced irrigation.

In southeastern counties, high winds and fires were reported. Late week moisture was welcome and cool weather helped keep soil moisture from evaporating
too quickly.

As of April 23, 2018, snowpack in Colorado was 81 percent measured as percent of median snowfall, and the Southwest was at 31 percent.

Stored feed supplies were rated 4 percent very short, 18 percent short, 77 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus.

Sheep death loss was 39 percent average and 61 percent light. Cattle death loss was 1 percent heavy, 72 percent average, and 27 percent light.


For the week ending April 22, 2018, there were 3.2 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 2 percent very short, 18 short, 76 adequate, and 4 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 25 short, 70 adequate, and 1 surplus.

Corn planted was 2 percent, behind 15 last year and 9 for the five-year average.

Soybeans planted was 1 percent, near 3 last year, and equal to average.

Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 6 poor, 37 fair, 46 good, and 10 excellent. 

Oats planted was 46 percent, well behind 79 last year and 78 average. Emerged was 15 percent, well behind 37 both last year and average.


Wyoming experienced near normal temperatures for the week. Fifteen of the 34 reporting stations reported above average temperatures for the week with the high temperature of 79 degrees recorded at Greybull and a low of 6 degrees at Big Piney.

Below normal moisture was reported at 29 of the 34 reporting stations with six stations reporting no precipitation. Natrona reported the most moisture with 0.62 inches.

A reporter from North Central Wyoming indicated that they got more sunshine this past week which allowed for more fieldwork. They also stated that they got the chilly wind but not the heavy snow.

A reporter from Northeastern Wyoming reported that the strong winds have depleted the soil moisture. They also reported that the cold winds have made lambing and calving difficult.

A reporter from Western Wyoming stated that the fair weather at the end of the week enabled producers to get into the fields.

A reporter from Southeastern Wyoming noted that spring range and pasture growth has been slow and while annual precipitation has been above average, April has been dry.

Hay and roughage supplies for Wyoming were rated 13 percent very short, 23 percent short, 53 percent adequate, and 11 percent surplus.

Irrigation water supply across Wyoming was rated 2 percent poor, 4 percent fair, 91 percent good, and 3 percent excellent.

Stock water supplies across Wyoming were rated 2 percent very short, 11 percent short, and 87 percent adequate.

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