Warmth and sunshine allow field work, drive plant growth

KIMBALL, Neb. – In the wake of a departing weather front, air temperatures were slightly cooler across most of the region over the May 29-June 4 period. Clear skies, sunshine, and a lack of precipitation allowed many producers to catch up on spring fieldwork, and most were engaged in planting and summer-till.

Abundant May rains slowed fieldwork for much of the month, allowing weeds to put on a lot of growth. While water use in weedy fields was certainly elevated, those same weeds will decompose after tillage, returning nutrients to the soil.

The above-average spring rainfall and warming late-spring temperatures have also strongly boosted plant growth across pastures and rangelands. As June began cool season grasses were standing taller than has been the case for many a year, and biomass production well above average. Thus far in 2018, it’s been one of the all-time best grass production years in a couple of decades. Forbs and shrubs have done well this spring also, and many have been putting on a brilliant and colorful show just in time for Nebraska Wildflower Week, which ends on Sunday.

Cows and calves are, unsurprisingly, growing fat and sassy on plentiful spring grass.

With the abundant rains there has also been an uptick in insect populations, and across the southern Panhandle mosquito populations have been uncharacteristically and annoyingly large and bothersome.

Regional Forecast and Conditions

As of Tuesday morning, the temperature at sunrise was 53 degrees under clear skies. Winds were westerly at 6 mph and the barometer was steady at 29.94 inches of mercury (in/Hg).

Today’s weather (Friday, June 8) is expected to be mostly sunny and warm with a slight chance of afternoon and evening thunderstorms. The temperature is expected to rise to 88 degrees before falling off to an overnight low of 55. Saturday and Sunday are expected to be slightly cooler and sunny with a slight chance of afternoon and evening thunderstorms. Daytime highs should range in the upper-80’s overnight lows falling into the mid-50’s.

Monday through Wednesday are expected to remain sunny and warm, albeit slightly cooler, with a continued chance of afternoon and evening thunderstorms. Daytime air temperatures should range in the lower 80’s with overnight lows falling into the low 50’s.

Average air temperatures cooled slightly across the region last week. At 13 selected stations across the Panhandle, 24-hour temperatures averaged 64.1 degrees, 3 degrees cooler than the previous week. At Kimball the May 29-June 4 daytime high averaged 78.28 degrees, about three-fourths of one degree cooler than the previous week. The weekly high temperature was 85 degrees on June 4. Overnight lows cooled also, averaging 47.71 degrees, about 2.5 degrees cooler than the previous week. The weekly low temperature was 44 degrees on June 2 and 3. The weekly mean temperature at Kimball was 63 degrees, about 1.75 degrees cooler than the previous week, and about 2 degrees cooler than the June average of 65.2 degrees. The long-term average high and low temperatures at Kimball for June are 80.3 and 50.1, respectively.

Rain was reported at 11 13 selected Panhandle stations over the May 29-June 4 period. Rainfall totals ranged from 1.05 inches at Harrisburg to a trace at Chadron and Sidney. Alliance and Lodgepole reported zero precipitation for the week. Across the Panhandle snowfall averaged zero inches and rainfall averaged 0.33 inches. Last week’s averages were zero inches and 0.96 inches respectively.

With the exception of Sidney, which cooled very slightly, soil temperatures warmed again across the Panhandle over the May 29-June 4 period: (this week/last week/change): Alliance 69.3/68.3 (+1.0) degrees; Gordon 69.5/67.9 (+1.6) degrees; Mitchell 65.5/63.8 (+1.7) degrees; Scottsbluff 67.5/63.8 (+3.7); and Sidney 69.1/69.3 (-0.2) degrees.

Winds near Kimball averaged south-southeasterly and mostly light over the May 29-June 4 period. Gusts for the week averaged 23.781 mph. High gust for the week was 32 mph on June 1 and 3.

Weather Almanac

Overview of June 8 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: Daily high temperature 82 degrees, overnight low 52 degrees, average temperature 67 degrees. Precipitation zero inches, snowfall zero inches, snow depth zero inches.

The warmest June 8 on record was 99 degrees in 2000. The coolest June 8 high temperature was 51 degrees in 1966. The coldest June 8 overnight low was 32 degrees in 2007. The warmest June 8 overnight low was 65 degrees in 1936. Over the years since 1893 the high temperature on June 8 has averaged 75 degrees, the overnight low 48 degrees, the daily average 61.6 degrees, precipitation has averaged 0.10 inches, snowfall zero inches, snow depth zero inches.

The highest June 8 precipitation total was 4.41 inches liquid equivalent (rain) in 1989. There is no record of snowfall or snow depth over the last 125 years.

Snow has fallen on June 8 at Kimball zero times over the last 125 years.

May weather almanac

Average 7 a.m. conditions: temperature 50.0 degrees, winds southerly at 5.4 mph, barometer 30.04 inches of mercury (in/Hg). 

Average daily high temperature 71.22 degrees (125 year average 69.3). Average daily low temperature 45.41 degrees (125YA 40.7). Daily average temperature 58.32 degrees (125YA 55.0). Total liquid precipitation 6.43 inches (125YA 2.78). Year to date (YTD) precipitation 12.18 inches (125YA 6.49). Total snowfall zero inches (125YA 1.1). YTD snow 41.95 inches (125YA 26.4).

Departures: Daily High, +1.92 degrees; Daily Low, +4.71 degrees; Daily Average, +3.32 degrees; Total Liquid Precipitation, +3.65 inches; YTD precipitation +5.69 inches. Total Snow, -1.1 inches. YTD snow +15.55 inches.

U.S. Drought Monitor

High Plains: In south-central and southeastern Nebraska, recent triple-digit heat and dryness has been an issue, especially for pastures and alfalfa. Where 90-day SPIs were less than -1.5, moderate drought (D1) was introduced. This included a small area south of Omaha, which was linked to the D1 area in nearby Iowa. Moderate drought (D1) was also expanded across northern Fillmore and northwest Saline counties. Incidentally, Omaha matched or set four days of high temperature records during the long Memorial Day weekend (Friday through Monday). The highs ranged between 97 and 101 degrees.

Across northwest Kansas, widespread heavy rain (3 inches or greater, with some isolated CoCoRaHS totals of about 9 inches) warranted a one-category improvement in the depiction. Next week, once the rainwater has a chance to either percolate into the soil or run off into streams, additional alteration of the Kansas depiction may be needed.

Across the Dakotas, D0, D1, and D2 categorical areas were generally expanded in coverage, due mostly to recent precipitation deficits. There was one area of improvement (D0 was removed) in the Black Hills of South Dakota due to rainfall this past week.

West: Recent rain warranted a one-category improvement in drought conditions (D1 to D0) across northeast Montana, and the two areas of abnormal dryness in this region were consolidated into one. For now, despite recent heat and dryness, it was decided to hold off on introducing any D0 into extreme northwest Montana. Continuing snowmelt runoff and above average river and stream flows provide plenty of water in that area for irrigation.

In nearby Idaho, some areas are coming out of their worst flooding in years. Bonner County continues to experience flooding, and farmers in adjacent Boundary County will be struggling with crop loss from the saturated soils in that region.

In Colorado, some improvement in the drought depiction was made from approximately the Front Range just west of Denver eastward through Kit Carson and Cheyenne Counties near the Kansas border. Relatively small adjustments were made in New Mexico this week as well, especially in central and east-central portions of the state.

USDA Weekly Weather and Crop Reports


Colorado experienced mixed weather again last week with conditions deteriorating in drought-stricken areas and fieldwork delayed in others due to heavy rainfall.

Northeastern counties received good moisture early in the week, with tornadoes and isolated hail also reported. Fieldwork was delayed in areas where rain was heaviest. Reporters noted most crops were doing well. Warm weather and favorable soil moisture promoted emergence and growth of spring crops. Livestock and pasture were reportedly doing well.

East central counties received varying levels of precipitation, with southern areas receiving less. A reporter in Kiowa county noted winter wheat was beginning to show signs of stress from lack of moisture. They also noted some county producers were not planting corn or sorghum due to no moisture and extreme drought. Pasture conditions also deteriorated last week in this district.

Southwestern county reporters noted drought conditions did not improve last week, and a major fire was burning in La Plata county. Measurable precipitation was extremely limited last week.

In the San Luis Valley, a rain storm at week’s end brought beneficial moisture. Fall potato planting was virtually complete and emergence picked up.

Southeastern counties received minimal moisture last week. First cutting alfalfa was lighter than normal.

Statewide, winter wheat was just starting to turn color, with 53 percent of the crop rated good to excellent, compared with 48 percent good to excellent last year.

Stored feed supplies were rated 7 percent very short, 18 percent short, 74 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus.

Sheep death loss was 47 percent average and 53 percent light. Cattle death loss was 75 percent average and 25 percent light.


No report available at press time.


Wyoming experienced above–normal temperatures for the week. Above-average temperatures were reported at 27 of the 34 reporting stations, with the high temperature of 90 degrees recorded at Kaycee and a low of 26 degrees at Yellowstone.

Above normal moisture was reported at 25 of the 34 reporting stations. Three stations tied for the low of reported precipitation, they were Jeffrey City, Big Piney, and Cheyenne at 0.15 inches. Newcastle reported the most moisture with 3.71 inches.

A reporter from North Central Wyoming noted that planting is finally done and crops are emerging and growing but some weevils have been noticed.

A reporter from Western Wyoming noted that they got some frost which has nipped the first crop of alfalfa.

A reporter from Southwestern Wyoming indicated a few small storms, but it has been mostly dry.

A reporter from South Central Wyoming indicated some moisture, but still scattered and spotty. They also indicated the irrigation water is holding up and the chances of a hay crop have improved. Another reporter from South Central Wyoming said parts of the county are extremely dry with low levels of water in the reservoirs. They also indicated ranchers have started to sell off cattle.

A reporter from Southeastern Wyoming they continued to get some rain, along with hail and tornadoes. They also indicated the wheat varies in quality but has improved with moisture.

Irrigation water supply across Wyoming was rated 1 percent poor, 8 percent fair, 86 percent good, and 5 percent excellent.

Stock water supplies across Wyoming were rated 2 percent very short, 8 percent short, 88 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus.


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