Nebraska remains in the grips of the drought and a state climatologist doesn’t expect the drought to be broken this winter.
State Climatologist Al Dutcher with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has some sober numbers: rain deficits of 12 inches in western Nebraska and 16-to-17 inches in northeast Nebraska.
“It’s almost virtually impossible to make up those deficits during the winter period,” Dutcher tells Nebraska Radio Network. “So, what we’re hoping for is just something similar to a normal winter pattern to at least show us that we’re getting some precipitation. And then, we’ll turn our attention to the spring and it’s going to require some substantial moisture.”
If snow this winter falls at a normal rate in Nebraska and the snowpack up north builds to a reasonable level, it would provide the first steps toward ending the drought. Though the northern snowpack the previous two years provided substantial runoff in the spring, last year it fell far short of normal, the first sign of a drought that would linger throughout the year.
Dutcher says 2012 will likely be one of the driest 12-month periods on record, with little hope for a break in the dry conditions until spring.
The drought spread over most of the Corn Belt this year. Some states have received a few inches of rain here and there to provide relief. Nebraska and Kansas didn’t receive even that small relief, greatly reducing sub-soil moisture in the two states.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]
AUDIO: Brent Martin interviews UNL State Climatologist Al Dutcher about the winter forecast. [12 min.]