Warming trend in the forecast after intense cold

KIMBALL, Neb. – Following a white and chilly Christmas, air temperatures warmed for several days as the sun came out while 2017 neared its close. Frigid temperatures returned to close out the month and year, however, and the mercury fell precipitously on Dec. 30 and 31.
2018 began with very cold air temperatures. Overnight lows plunged to minus 8 or less near Kimball, and the daytime high didn’t climb above the freezing mark on Jan. 2.
The snow that fell just before and during Christmas did provide a nice blanket of insulation for winter wheat fields. However, those fields were bared to the invasion of cold which began about 72 hours before the snow fell. Whether the 2018 crop suffered cold mortality will only be known as the plants green up in the spring.
Snow cover also continued to reduce winter grazing for livestock. Producers were busy feeding hay over the Christmas-New
Year week.

Regional Forecast and Conditions
As of Tuesday morning, the temperature at sunrise was 10 degrees under clear skies. Wind was northwest at 8 mph. The day was expected to remain clear and to warm slightly with a high temperature of about
30 degrees.
A warming trend was forecast for Friday and Saturday, with daytime air temperatures approaching 50 degrees. A weather front was expected to arrive late on Saturday, causing temperatures to dip and bringing a chance of widespread but light snow. Sunday’s high was expected to climb to about 40 degrees. Overnight lows were forecast to range in the lower 20’s through the weekend. Winds could be brisk on Saturday and Sunday.
Monday through Wednesday is expected to be much the same. Daytime temperatures are expected to range in the 30- to 40-degree range, with overnight lows falling into the teens. There is little chance of precipitation in the forecast during this period.
Daytime air temperatures cooled again across the region last week. At Kimball the Dec. 26 – Jan. 1 daytime high averaged 23.0, about 8 degrees cooler than the previous week. The weekly high temperature was 46 degrees on Dec. 29. Overnight lows cooled as well, averaging -0.21 degrees, about 8 degrees cooler than the previous week. The weekly low temperature was -8 degrees on Dec. 26. The weekly mean temperature was 11.32 degrees, about 18 degrees cooler than the previous week, and about 17 degrees cooler than the December average of 28.4 degrees. The long-term average high and low temperatures at Kimball for December are 41.7 and 15.0 degrees, respectively, and for January 40.3 and 13.4, respectively.
Widespread light snowfall was reported across parts of the region, with 10 of 13 Panhandle stations reporting measurable precipitation during the Dec. 26-Jan. 1 period. Hemingford reported the most snowfall at 6 inches, and Hemingford and Scottsbluff each reported Kimball reported 0.23 inches of liquid equivalent. Liquid equivalent precipitation averaged 0.17 inches for the Panhandle, while snowfall averaged 2.18 inches. Last week’s averages were 0.22 and 4.49 inches respectively.
Soil temperatures cooled from 0.5-3.4 degrees across the Panhandle over the Dec. 26-Jan. 1 period: (this week/last week/change): Alliance 30.9/33.1 (-2.2) degrees; Gordon 31.7/32.7 (-1.0) degrees; Mitchell 31.7/35.1 (-3.4) degrees; Scottsbluff 33.1/34.5 (-1.4); and Sidney 31.6/32.1 (-0.5) degrees.
Winds near Kimball averaged southerly and generally mild over the Dec. 26-January 1 period. Gusts for the week averaged 18.14 mph. High gust for the week was 25 mph on Dec. 29 and 30.

Jan. 5 Weather Almanac
Here’s an overview of Jan. 5 temperature and precipitation highs, lows, and averages over the preceding 124 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: Daily high temperature 6 degrees, overnight low -1 degrees, average temperature 2.5 degrees. Precipitation 0.20 inches, snowfall 4 inches, snow depth 4 inches.
The warmest Jan. 5 on record was 67 degrees in 1927. The coolest high temperature was 4 degrees in 1971. The coldest overnight low was -20 degrees in 1894. The warmest overnight low was 36 degrees in 1893. Over the years since 1893 the high temperature on Jan. 5 has averaged 40 degrees, the overnight low 14 degrees, the daily average 26.7 degrees, precipitation has averaged 0.01 inches, snowfall 0.2 inches, snow depth zero inches.
The greatest Jan. 5 precipitation total was 0.56 inches liquid equivalent in 1955. The greatest snowfall was 8.5 inches in 1955. Greatest snow depth was 17.0 inches in 1949.
Snow has fallen on Jan. 5 at Kimball 22 times over the last 124 years, with quantities ranging from a trace to 8.5 inches.

December weather almanac
Average 7 a.m. conditions: temperature 23 degrees, winds south-southeasterly at 5.64 mph, barometer 29.77.
Average daily high temperature 40.48 degrees (123 year average 41.7). Average daily low temperature 13.85 degrees (124YA 15.0). Daily average temperature 27.16 degrees (124YA 28.4). Total liquid precipitation 0.79 inches (124YA 0.50). Year to date (YTD) precipitation 16.01 inches (124YA 16.29). Total snowfall 9.45 inches (124YA 6.3). YTD snow 34.38 inches (124YA 39.2).
Departures: Daily High, -1.22 degrees; Daily Low, -1.15 degrees; Daily Average, -1.24 degrees; Total Liquid Precipitation, +0.29 inches; YTD precipitation -0.28 inches. Total Snow, +3.15 inches. YTD snow -4.82 inches.

U.S. Drought Monitor
High Plains: Like the upper Midwest, with frigid temperatures, a non-growing season, frozen soils, and a climatological dry time of year (fall and winter), conditions should have remained locked in place. With that said, light snow fell across portions of the High Plains, providing a thin to medium blanket of snow across Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, northern halves of Colorado and Kansas, and southern South Dakota. Snow was lacking across northern South Dakota as readings dropped below zero by week’s end. In more southern locations where temperatures were somewhat warmer and soils not as deeply frozen, short-term D1 and D2 was expanded in southwestern and central Kansas in response to similar drought indices in neighboring Oklahoma. Fortunately, with longer-term conditions not as dire in Kansas as in Oklahoma, impacts were less severe in Kansas.
West: Significant precipitation (1-4 inches) was limited to along the Washington and Oregon Coasts, in the northern Cascades, and the northern and central
Little or no precipitation was observed across much of the Southwest, Great Basin, and southern Rockies. While the Water Year-to-Date (WYTD) basin average precipitation was near to above-normal (85-120 percent) across the northern half of the West, warmer temperatures have reduced the average basin snow water content (SWC) to near or slightly below normal across the Northwest (50-100 percent), although eastern Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming has fared better (100-150 percent).
With the recent precipitation, some slight reduction (improvement) in the western edges of the D0 and D1 areas in northwestern Montana were made as 1.5-4 inches brought indices at or closer to normal. The rest of Montana remained unchanged as light snow and subnormal temperatures locked conditions in place for now.
Across the southern half of the West, the WYTD precipitation and SWC have been the opposite of the north, with nearly all basins below normal (drier as one heads southward) and SWC at half of normal or less. Basin average precipitation and SWC in Arizona, southern Utah and Colorado, and New Mexico lingered below 25 percent, with SWC in single digits in parts of Arizona and New Mexico.
In western New Mexico, dry weather during the past 90-days brought indices in line with D1 conditions. In central and eastern New Mexico, however, wet weather during late September has kept this area out of D1, but as this time period falls out of the past 90-days, D1 expansion is possible as very little precipitation has fallen since then. For example, Albuquerque, NM, has recorded 81 consecutive days without measurable precipitation through Dec. 25 (but 2.10 inches during Sep. 27-30).
Across the rest of the Four Corners states, future degradation is possible due to a poor WYTD, but recent light precipitation, lower temperatures, and waiting for final Dec. numbers and impacts staved off downgrades
this week.
In southern California, the Thomas Fire continued to burn, with 272,600 acres consumed as of Dec. 22.
National Summary: A series of storm systems tracked across the lower 48 States, dropping light to moderate precipitation on the Northwest and northern half of the Rockies, which eventually entrained ample Gulf moisture into the system while over the lower Mississippi Valley. As a result, widespread moderate to heavy rains (2-6 inches, locally to 10 inches) fell from northeastern Texas northeastward into the southern and central Appalachians, with the greatest totals reported in central Arkansas and western Tennessee.
As the systems trekked farther eastward, light to moderate precipitation also fell on the Northeast and the Carolinas as frigid conditions gradually replaced the mild air from earlier in the week across the eastern two-thirds of the Nation.
Dry conditions prevailed across the Southwest, southern third of the High Plains, along the Gulf Coast, and in parts of the mid-Atlantic.
In Hawaii, very heavy rains (4-10 inches) during Dec. 20-21 in the central islands (western Maui, Lihue, eastern Molokai) interrupted what had been a relatively quiet (dry) December.
For more information on the U.S. Drought Monitor visit: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu

U.S. Conditions and Weather Report
Due to the federal holiday, the Jan. 2 report was not available at press time.
(Dec. 27) Two rounds of heavy rain brought drought relief to the mid-South, but also halted outdoor activities. Weekly rainfall generally totaled 2 to 6 inches from northeastern Texas into the Tennessee Valley and the southern Appalachians.
A broader area of light precipitation covered much of the South, East, and lower Midwest, benefiting pastures, winter grains, and
cover crops.
In contrast, little or no precipitation fell in the nation’s southwestern quadrant. Despite the lack of rain, firefighters neared full containment of the Thomas fire — which at more than 280,000 acres became the largest single wildfire in modern California history.
On the central and southern High Plains, where dry conditions also persisted, winter wheat remained exposed to potential weather extremes. From Nebraska northward, however, a variable snow cover provided wheat with some insulation as cold air began to arrive.
With mild weather in place for much of the week, temperatures averaged at least 10 degrees above normal in many locations from the Gulf Coast northward into the Ohio and middle Mississippi Valleys. However, a brief Western cold spell resulted in freezes— especially on Dec. 21 and 22—in California’s San Joaquin Valley, requiring some producers to utilize protective measures for citrus and other temperature-sensitive crops.

USDA Weekly Weather and Crop Reports
Weekly crop progress reports have ended for the growing season. Monthly reports will be issued during the first week of January and February. Weekly reports will resume the first week of March 2018.

Continued warm and dry weather during the month of December was interspersed with minimal seasonal snowfall across the state.
Reporters in all districts noted that insignificant moisture was received during the past month and that snow was too cold to contain much moisture content.
In northeastern counties, reporters expressed concern that dry conditions accompanied by cold snaps without the benefit of snow cover might have hurt fall seeded wheat.
In southwest, southeast, and San Luis Valley counties, reporters noted dry conditions dominated the past month, but that feed supplies were adequate due to less snow cover on grazed range.
Across the state, rangeland conditions were reported as declining due to dry conditions. Livestock are reported to be in good condition with sufficient feed supplies and availability of winter grazing where snow cover is not a hindrance.
As of Jan. 1, Colorado snowpack was measured at 56 percent, as percent of median snowfall.

For the month of December 2017, topsoil moisture supplies rated 6 percent very short, 37 short, 56 adequate, and 1 surplus, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Subsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 27 short, 66 adequate, and 0 surplus.
Winter wheat condition rated 2 percent very poor, 5 poor, 29 fair, 58 good, and 6 excellent.

Wyoming experienced warmer than average temperatures for the month. Twenty-one of the 34 reporting stations reported above average temperatures for the month with the high temperature of 70 degrees recorded at Buffalo-Johnson and Sheridan, and a low of 26 degrees below zero at Shirley Basin.
Above normal moisture was reported at eighteen of the reporting stations with one station reporting no precipitation. Yellowstone reported the most moisture with 2.25 inches.
A reporter from North Central Wyoming indicated that they had gotten snow and negative temperatures for the last three weeks. They also indicated that so far, the livestock seem to be doing well and they could use more snowpack in the mountains.
A reporter from South Central Wyoming indicated that so far, they have had a mild and dry winter. They also indicated they have had a lot of wind but have not needed to feed very much, but they are concerned about spring moisture. Another reporter from South Central Wyoming indicated that they are below normal in moisture at the lower elevations.
A reporter from Southeastern Wyoming indicated that they have had snow cover and frigid temperatures.
Hay and roughage supplies for Wyoming were rated 1 percent very short, 19 percent short, and 80 percent adequate. Stock water supplies across Wyoming were rated 12 percent very short, 28 percent short, and 60 percent adequate.


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