February 6, 2016

It might take significant snowfall to break drought

State Climatologist Ken Dewey says it would take a lot of rain to end the drought which has Nebraska in its grip. And, it might take significant snowfall to do it.

Dewey with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says it wouldn’t take long for our lawns to bounce back. Trees and bushes are another story.

“If we were to go into a wet spell and it doesn’t look like we’re going to, the lawns will respond within a week,” Dewey tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN’s Jack and Friends Show. “But, what’s happening, is you’ll notice some trees are already going into early fall and the leaves are browning up and starting to fall. And, then, the residual effects you’re not going to see that until next year when, as we come out of winter dormancy, some of the trees and bushes are going to say, ‘Never mind.’”

Dewey says the damage done this summer could be permanent to trees and bushes.

“Some of the trees will die off or will partially die off and some of the shrubbery will. This kind of extreme impact you see on the lawns right away and you see on the crops right away, but the residual effect we will feel for the next couple of years as the vegetation has difficulty recovering from such an extreme event,” according to Dewey.

Nebraska needs rain; a lot of rain.

The National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says the northeastern portion of the state, from the Platte River, north to the South Dakota border is 12-to-15 inches short of rainfall over the past 12 months. The southeastern part of the state is 9-to-12 inches short, with the rest of the state 6-to-9 inches short over the same time period.

Dewey says El Nino could break the drought and create a wet winter.

“But, I think we’re going to have significantly more snow than last winter, because it will be a more moist winter,” Dewey says. “So, that’s good for next year’s crops. It’s obviously too late for this year. We need to replenish water into the ground. We need about a foot of water over the winter and we’d be back to normal; don’t know if we’ll do that.”

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