Light snow, light rain, greening grass, and other signs of spring

© 2018-Business Farmer

KIMBALL, Neb. – Last Friday saw a fast-moving weather system deliver widespread but light rain and snow across much of the tri-state region. A follow-on weather system brought more moisture Monday, albeit in lesser quantity. The average liquid content across the Panhandle was about 0.15 inches.

All across the region conditions were becoming more spring like as air and soil temperatures warmed while the March calendar wound ever closer to April.

Near Kimball winter wheat fields were greening up nicely, but many were showing patchy areas of winterkill and other signs of a highly stressful winter.

Sedges and cool-season grasses were greening as well across pasture and rangeland. Many early forbs were greening also. Thirteen-lined ground squirrels were scurrying about and the Meadowlark’s song was beginning to carry in the warming breeze.

Regional Forecast and Conditions

As of Tuesday morning (March 27), the temperature at sunrise was 24 degrees under clear skies. Wind was out of the west at 7 mph and the barometer was 30.14 inches of mercury (in/Hg). The day was expected to be mostly sunny and breezy. Air temperatures were expected to reach 51 degrees before falling to an overnight low of
30 degrees.

Today’s (Friday) weather is expected to be partly sunny and warm with a high of 58 degrees and an overnight low of 28 degrees. Saturday is expected to be cloudy and cooler with a 40 percent chance of rain/snow mix. Saturday’s high and low are forecast to be 44 and 22 degrees, respectively. Sunday is expected to be cloudy and warmer, with a high of 51 degrees and an overnight low of 28 degrees. 

Monday through Wednesday are expected to be slightly warmer under partly-cloudy skies, with daytime highs ranging in the low 60’s and overnight lows falling into the 30’s. There is little or no chance of precipitation forecast for the Monday-Wednesday period.

Daytime air temperatures warmed across the region last week. At Kimball the March 20-26 daytime high averaged 60.42 degrees, about 5 degrees warmer than the previous week. The weekly high temperature was 71 degrees on March 22. Overnight lows warmed about 5 degrees also, averaging 30.28. The weekly low temperature was 23 degrees on March 20. The weekly mean temperature was 45.35 degrees, about 5 degrees warmer than the previous week, and 9 degrees warmer than the March average of 36.0 degrees. The long-term average high and low temperatures at Kimball for March are 49.8 and 22.2,
respectively.

Widespread but light rain and snow visited the region over the last week. All Panhandle stations reported light rain and six of 13 stations reported light snow. Liquid equivalent moisture ranged from 0.01 inches to 0.45 inches over the March 20-26 period. Snowfall averaged 0.54 inches and liquid equivalent precipitation averaged 0.15 inches. Last week’s averages were 2.59 and 0.34 inches respectively.

Soil temperatures warmed nicely across the Panhandle over the March 20-26 period: (this week/last week/change): Alliance 41.4/33.4 (+8.0) degrees; Gordon 42.3/32.2 (+10.1) degrees; Mitchell 44.5/40.8 (+3.7) degrees; Scottsbluff 44.5/40.0 (+4.5); and Sidney 46.4/42.1 (+4.3) degrees.

Winds near Kimball averaged southerly and occasionally breezy over the March 20-26 period. Gusts for the week averaged 28.28 mph. High gust for the week was 37 mph on March 23.

March 30 Weather Almanac

Here’s an overview of March 30 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 (March 30, 2017): Daily high temperature 54 degrees, overnight low 30 degrees, average temperature 42.0 degrees. Precipitation 0.02 inches, snowfall zero inches, snow depth zero inches.

The warmest March 30 on record was 78 degrees in 1986. The coolest March 30 high temperature was 24 degrees in 1954. The coldest March 30 overnight low was -0.1 degrees in 1899. The warmest March 30 overnight low was 42 degrees in 1986. Over the years since 1893 the high temperature on March 30 has averaged 53 degrees, the overnight low 26 degrees, the daily average 39.6 degrees, precipitation has averaged 0.04 inches, snowfall 0.3 inches, snow depth zero inches.

The highest March 30 precipitation total was 1.25 inches liquid equivalent (rain) in 1927. The greatest snowfall was 8.0 inches in 1895. Greatest snow depth was 8.0 inches in 1975.

Snow has fallen on March 30 at Kimball 29 times over the last 125 years, with quantities ranging from a trace to 8.0 inches.

U.S. Drought Monitor

(March 20) National Summary: Moderate precipitation fell in a wide swath covering an area from Kansas and Nebraska, eastward into parts of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Additionally, moderate precipitation fell in the South and Southeast. Locally higher amounts fell in northern Florida late in the USDM period. Moisture laden systems continued to provide much needed precipitation to coastal California and the Sierra. Light to moderate precipitation fell in the Northeast, High Plains, and parts of the Rockies. The drought-stricken areas of the Four Corners and the Southern Plains saw little to no
precipitation.

Across the High Plains, precipitation was a mixture of above and below normal across the region during the USDM period. Precipitation surpluses of 0.25 to 1 inch was widespread across much of the western Dakotas, eastern Wyoming, much of Nebraska, the northeastern corner of Colorado and parts of western Kansas.

The eastern Dakotas, north central Wyoming and much of southern Colorado had precipitation deficits of 0.25 inch during the period. Winter wheat conditions were rated 55 percent poor to very poor in Kansas where 60-day precipitation departures are as much as 3 inches below normal. Recent precipitation allowed for D0 to be removed in northern Nebraska and parts of western Minnesota. Moderate drought (D1) was trimmed back in central North Dakota. Extreme drought (D3) was expanded southern Colorado.

In the west, recipitation amounts during the USDM period were above normal in parts of Montana, much of Idaho, eastern Oregon, northern Utah and Nevada, and much of California.

Below-normal precipitation occurred elsewhere, but was most notable in the Desert Southwest and coastal Pacific Northwest. Precipitation departures for the 30- and 60-day time periods are apparent in most of the region. The important water year-to-date precipitation amounts were running above normal in the north but running at least 25-50 percent below normal for much of the region. Mountain snowpack is less than 25 percent of normal across much of the Sierra Nevada and Intermountain West. Extreme drought (D3) was expanded in Arizona.

For more information on the U.S. Drought Monitor visit: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu

USDA Weekly Weather and Crop Reports

Colorado

Last week remained dry and windy in areas, allowing fieldwork to begin. Soil moisture supplies improved slightly due to scattered storms, but statewide a lack of moisture was the primary concern going into the growing season.

Reporters in eastern and northeastern counties noted conditions were mixed depending on locality. Some areas received timely moisture, aiding pasture and dryland crop conditions, while others remained dry. There were reports some wheat blew out and several wheat fields had blank spots due to winter kill and dry, windy conditions.

Southwestern counties remained in extreme drought, with southern counties impacted the most. Although recent precipitation in areas helped topsoil moisture and fall planted wheat condition, subsoil moisture remained limited. Reporters noted irrigation supplies appeared adequate, with dryland crop and rangeland bearing the brunt of drought
conditions.

In the San Luis Valley, reporters noted fieldwork started and some growers began irrigating a week early.  Conditions were dry with no recent measureable
moisture.

Reporters in southeastern counties noted isolated moisture was received, but warm and windy conditions prevailed.

Statewide, livestock were doing well, with calving and lambing progressing better than normal in areas due to mild weather.

As of March 26, snowpack in Colorado was 73 percent measured as percent of median snowfall. The Southwest and San Luis Valley were 55 and 54 percent, respectively.

Stored feed supplies were rated 1 percent very short, 16 percent short, 78 percent adequate, and 5 percent surplus.

Sheep death loss was 35 percent average and 65 percent light.  Cattle death loss was 77 percent average and 23 percent light.

Nebraska

March 26 – No report. 

Wyoming

Wyoming experienced warmer than normal temperatures for the month, with 21 of 35 stations reported above average temperatures for the month. The state-wide high temperature of 71 degrees was recorded at LaGrange and Torrington, and the low of 15 degrees below zero was reported at Yellowstone.

Below normal moisture was reported at twenty-two of the reporting stations with two stations (Lander and Newcastle) reporting no precipitation. Jackson Hole reported the most moisture with
2.62 inches.

A reporter from Northwest Wyoming indicated that some late storms have delayed planting.

A reporter from North Central Wyoming reported concerns over a lack of moisture in spite of scattered winter storms. 

A reporter from Western Wyoming stated that winter weather has returned during the last week, snow levels are approaching normal and heavy calving has started.

A reporter from South Central Wyoming indicated they have received some moisture, but it is still dry. They also indicated that temperatures have been normal with lots of wind and the prospects for irrigation look poor.

A reporter from Southeast Wyoming stated that they have gotten some moisture but conditions are dry.

Hay and roughage supplies for Wyoming were rated 10 percent very short, 10 percent short, 75 percent adequate and 5 percent surplus.

Stock water supplies across Wyoming were rated 2 percent very short, 13 percent short, and 85 percent adequate.


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