Warmth follows snow, more snow in forecast

© 2018-Business Farmer

KIMBALL, Neb. – Much of the five inches of snow that fell near Kimball last week had melted away by Tuesday morning as sunshine and warmth pushed winter’s chill aside for the moment.
As the snow melted and temperatures warmed, many producers looked with concern at winter wheat field showing a bit too much green for this time of the year. On the one hand, greening wheat proves the plants still survive; on the other hand, greening wheat is susceptible to cold injury with renewed frigid weather and is also using scarce moisture from already too-dry fields.
Regional Forecast and Conditions
As of Tuesday morning (Jan. 30), the temperature at sunrise was 36 degrees under cloudy skies. Wind was westerly at 13 mph. The day was expected to be overcast and warm with daytime temperatures reaching near 55 degrees.
A weather system was expected to arrive Tuesday evening, bringing cooler temperatures and a chance
of snow.
Today (Friday) skies are forecast to be partly cloudy as another weather system arrives. Daytime highs should touch 35 degrees, then cool as the system progresses, with overnight lows expected to fall to about 28.
Saturday is expected to bring a 40 percent chance of snow showers in the morning and evening, with a high of 37 and a low of 11 forecast. Sunday is expected to be much the same, but colder, with the mercury only touching 23 degrees during the day and falling to 14 overnight.
Precipitation in the form of light rain and rain/snow mix is forecast for Monday and Tuesday, with clearing skies expected by Wednesday. Daytime highs are anticipated to range in the upper 30’s, with overnight lows in the teens.
Daytime air temperatures warmed slightly across the region last week. At Kimball the Jan. 23-29 daytime high averaged 44.14, about 2.4 degrees warmer than the previous week. The weekly high temperature was 54 degrees on Jan. 29. Overnight lows warmed very slightly as well, averaging 20.0 degrees, about 0.85 degrees warmer than the previous week. The weekly low temperature was 12 degrees on Jan. 23 and 24. The weekly mean temperature was 32.07 degrees, about 2 degrees warmer than the previous week, and about 5 degrees warmer than the Jan. average of 26.9 degrees. The long-term average high and low temperatures at Kimball for January were 40.3 and 13.4, respectively.
Precipitation was almost nil across the Panhandle last week, with only three locations – Agate, Chadron, and Sidney – reporting even a trace of moisture during the Jan. 23-29 period. Liquid equivalent precipitation averaged zero inches for the Panhandle, while snowfall averaged zero inches as well. Last week’s averages were 0.1 and 1.91 inches respectively.
Soil temperatures changed very little across the Panhandle over the Jan. 23-29 period: (this week/last week/change): Alliance 31.4/31.0 (+0.04) degrees; Gordon 29.9/29.4 (+0.4) degrees; Mitchell 30.2/29.2 (+1.0) degrees; Scottsbluff 30.0/30.3 (-0.3); and Sidney 30.2/29.6
(+0.6) degrees.
Winds near Kimball averaged westerly and sometimes brisk over the Jan. 23-29 period. Gusts for the week averaged 28.14 mph. High gust for the week was 36 mph on Jan. 29.
Weather Almanac
Here’s an overview of Feb. 2 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 (Feb. 2, 2017): Daily high temperature 20 degrees, overnight low 10 degrees, average temperature 15.0 degrees. Precipitation trace, snowfall trace, snow
depth trace.
The warmest Feb. 2 on record was 75 degrees in 2003. The coolest Feb. 2 high temperature was -4 degrees in 2011. The coldest Feb. 2 overnight low was -22 degrees in 1985. The warmest Feb. 2 overnight low was 35 degrees in 2003. Over the years since 1893 the high temperature on Feb. 2 has averaged 40 degrees, the overnight low 15 degrees, the daily average 27.3 degrees, precipitation has averaged 0.01 inches, snowfall 0.1 inches, snow depth zero inches.
The highest Feb. 2 precipitation total was 0.57 inches liquid equivalent in 2016. The greatest snowfall was 6.6 inches in 2016. Greatest snow depth was 9.0 inches in 1949.
Snow has fallen on Feb. 2 at Kimball 24 times over the last 124 years, with quantities ranging from a trace to 6.6 inches.
U.S. Drought Monitor
High Plains: An inch or more of precipitation was reported at stations in eastern Nebraska and a few stations in western Wyoming and the Colorado Rockies. Amounts dropped off to the north and south, with many stations in the Dakotas and Kansas measuring no precipitation for the week.
D0 contracted in eastern Nebraska and southeastern South Dakota, and D2 was trimmed in western South Dakota, but D0 expanded in northeastern South Dakota and eastern North Dakota, D1 from Oklahoma crept into southeastern Kansas, and D2 from New Mexico pushed into southern Colorado.
As relayed by the NDMC, agricultural impacts from the drought are being felt in Utah, Kansas, and Oklahoma and include decreasing hay and soybean yields, deteriorating wheat and grazing conditions, and decreasing water supplies, with ponds and wells going dry. Some of these effects started from moisture deficits dating back to summer 2017.
West: A Pacific low and frontal system brought rain and snow to parts of northern California, Washington, Oregon and the northern Rockies. Amounts were heaviest in favored upslope areas, with some stations along the coast and in the Cascades reporting over 5 inches of precipitation. Six inches to over a foot of new snow was added to several high elevation SNOTEL stations. But this is the wet season when normals are high, so even with the beneficial precipitation, much of the West was drier than normal this week.
The Pacific system dried out as it crossed the coastal ranges, and the precipitation largely missed the southern states in the West. Several stations in New Mexico have gone over a hundred days with no measurable precipitation, including Moriarty and Conchas Dam. The Weather Service office at Albuquerque has measured only 0.03 inch since Oct. 5, 2017. Several SNOTEL stations in the Sangre De Cristos were reporting the lowest year on record for snow water equivalent (SWE). The low snowpack in the mountains was impacting the recreation industry (ski resorts), but some parts of New Mexico were beginning to see agricultural impacts, mostly forage.
As relayed by the NDMC, agricultural impacts from the drought are being felt in Utah, Kansas, and Oklahoma and include decreasing hay and soybean yields, deteriorating wheat and grazing conditions, and decreasing water supplies – ponds and wells going dry. Some of these effects started from moisture deficits dating back to summer 2017.
D1 expanded in southeastern New Mexico; D2 grew in southwestern and northern New Mexico and into adjacent southern Colorado, and expanded in central and southern Arizona; and D0 expanded into the Sierra Nevada Mountains of central California. The California D0 expansion reflected low mountain snowpack values; many lakes and reservoir levels were down as part of flood mitigation activities, but water supply was adequate. The low SWE and precipitation values, as well as high evaporative demand due to above-normal temperatures, were widespread across California and Nevada, but no additional changes were made this week due to the Pacific storm and normal to above-normal stream flows.
National Summary: A westerly flow dominated the upper-level circulation across the contiguous U.S. during this U.S. Drought Monitor week. The week began with a frontal system exiting the eastern CONUS, and ended with another Pacific system moving across the country.
The systems brought an inch to more than locally 5 inches of precipitation to the coasts and Cascades of northern California to Washington; 1 to 2 inches of precipitation to parts of the northern Rockies and in swaths from eastern Nebraska to the Great Lakes and from southeastern Oklahoma to the Mid-Mississippi Valley; and a few reports of 1 inch or more across parts of the South and Southeast.
These amounts translated to above normal for the central Plains to western Great Lakes, parts of the Pacific Northwest, the swath from southeastern Oklahoma to the Mid-Mississippi Valley, and a few areas in the South and Southeast.
For large parts of the country, the week was drier than normal, with little to no precipitation falling across large parts of the Southwest and Southern Plains.
The westerly flow brought above-normal temperatures to most of the West and across the northern states, especially the Northern Plains to western Great Lakes where weekly temperature departures were 9 to 15 degrees above normal. Weekly temperatures averaged below normal across the southern states from eastern Arizona to North Carolina, where the effects of earlier cold air masses still lingered.
Contraction of drought and abnormal dryness occurred with the large winter storm that dumped on eastern Nebraska to the Great Lakes, and contraction occurred in a few other areas in the southern Plains and Northeast. But the continued dry conditions in the Southwest to Southern Plains and Southeast intensified and expanded drought and abnormal dryness in these areas.
For more information on the U.S. Drought Monitor visit: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu
U.S. Conditions and Weather Report
Snow blanketed areas from central portions of the Rockies and High Plains into the Great Lakes region. The snow, which locally totaled a foot or more, provided beneficial moisture and insulation for winter wheat in Nebraska and portions of neighboring states, but increased stress on livestock and caused significant travel disruptions. However, unlike several earlier storms, relatively mild weather trailed the Jan. 21-22 event.
Meanwhile, generally beneficial rain fell in much of the South, East, and lower Midwest. Toward week’s end, a second storm brought additional rain to most of the same areas, preceded by a surge of unseasonable warmth. From the two storms, weekly rainfall totaled 4 inches or more in scattered locations near the central Gulf Coast, and topped an inch in portions of the mid-South and Northeast.
Farther west, negligible precipitation was observed across the northern and southern Plains. In the latter region, stress on dormant winter wheat persisted due to a variety of factors, including poor crop establishment, intensifying drought, and temperature extremes.
Elsewhere, mostly dry weather in the Southwest contrasted with heavy precipitation in parts of northern California and the Northwest. Despite the precipitation, accumulation of mountain snowpack was limited by mild weather.
Below-normal temperatures were confined to areas from California into the Southwest, while mild weather dominated the central and eastern U.S., as well as the Northwest. Weekly temperatures averaged at least 10 degrees above normal in the Corn Belt and were more than 15 degrees above normal in much of the upper Midwest.
A final blast of bitterly cold air reached deep into the South, preceded by another batch of wintry precipitation. The cold snap, which peaked on Jan. 17- 18, held Southeastern weekly temperatures 5 to 15 degrees below normal and threatened winter crops in Florida and Louisiana. Producers in Florida used irrigation (ice caps) to help protect crops such as citrus and strawberries, while growers in Louisiana monitored sugarcane for signs of freeze injury. In addition, snow covered the ground across large sections of the South for several days, starting around mid-month. Snow, albeit mostly light, also fell in parts of the Midwest and Northeast.
Mild weather prevailed in the West and returned to the northern Plains and upper Midwest. Weekly temperatures averaged at least 10 degrees above normal in parts of the interior West. Significant precipitation, confined for much of the week to the Pacific Northwest, eventually overspread other sections of the western U.S.
Despite the late-week precipitation, abysmally low snowpack continued to plague many river basins from California to the central and southern Rockies.
Mostly dry weather accompanied a warming trend on the Plains. Across the southern half of the Plains, stress on winter wheat has been compounded by a variety of factors, including poor establishment, intensifying drought, and temperature extremes. On Jan. 16-17, sub-zero temperatures were noted as far south as northern Oklahoma; by Jan. 20, readings on the southern Plains approached or reached 80 degrees. At week’s end, snow developed across portions of the northern High Plains in advance of an approaching storm system.

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