There have been some promising signs of an easing of, but not an end to, the drought.
The two late winter snowstorms that hit the Midwest largely missed Nebraska. They dumped the largest snowfall totals to out south, especially on the Kansas City area.
Still, those storms might benefit us.
State Climatologist Al Dutcher with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says the winter weather is starting to lay a foundation of moisture to the south of Nebraska.
“My expectation is we will probably see a little bit better return to moisture this spring. It is not going to undo the drought, but certainly we’re going to have to take every bit of moisture we can get in order to have any semblance of a chance to produce decent hay forage stocks this spring and early summer period,” Dutcher tells Nebraska Radio Network.
The next system which might hit Nebraska will likely develop in the Pacific Northwest and enter the Central Plains sometime around the 9th or 10th.
Dutcher says the late winter snowstorms have started to lay a foundation of moisture to the south of Nebraska which could lead to a more normal weather pattern this spring. A more normal weather pattern won’t make up for deep rainfall deficits, but would be a big improvement.
“We have in some parts of the state gotten fairly close to normal precipitation during the last two to three months, during the winter period,” according to Dutcher. “But unfortunately that’s our dry season. We need to see the normal precipitation in the months of March and April to be more consequential in terms of building up subsoil moisture.”
The rainfall deficits are significant. Since the end of July in 2011, northeastern Nebraska is 20 inches short of rain. Central Nebraska is around 15 inches short, with west-central Nebraska between nine and 12 inches short.
Dutcher says March and April are critical. Rainfall needs to return to normal while temperatures remain low enough to keep vegetation from sprouting too soon and robbing precious subsoil moisture.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]