Warm weather and breeziness likely to continue

KIMBALL – As clocks were moved forward Sunday to comply with Daylight Saving Time, springlike conditions continued to develop across the Panhandle of Nebraska and most of the Tri-State Region.
Last week saw warming but quite blustery conditions. High winds during daylight hours were the norm rather than the exception. At Kimball winds averaged 43 mph for the week with a peak gust of 64 recorded on March 7.
A fast-moving weather front flowed through the region on Saturday, March 11, bringing scattered light rain to the Panhandle.
Continued warmth and sunshine has warmed soils and prompted winter wheat to break dormancy and begin its spring growth cycle.
As wheat fields greened up across the region, winter annual grasses were germinating and some cool season grasses were beginning to show a tinge of green across pastures and rangeland.
Soil moisture reserves are lower than normal for the season and the near-term precipitation forecast does not look promising. There is still plenty of time for spring moisture to arrive, however, this is a good time for producers to review drought plans.

Regional Forecast and Conditions

Warmer conditions are expected to continue through the weekend and into mid-week. Forecasters anticipate breezy-to-windy conditions to develop on most days. Skies are expected to be mostly sunny. Daytime high temperatures should range in the 60’s to 70’s, with overnight lows falling into the mid-30’s to mid-40’s. As of the March 7 forecast, there is little chance of precipitation in the forecast through March 22.
Air temperatures warmed across the region last week. At Kimball the March 7-13 daytime high averaged 56.28 degrees, about 5 degrees warmer than the previous week. The weekly high temperature was 67 degrees on March 9. Overnight lows averaged 25.0 degrees, about 1.5 degrees warmer than the previous week. The weekly low temperature was 20 degrees on March 10 and 13. The weekly mean temperature was 40.64 degrees, exactly 3 degrees warmer than the previous week and just over 4 degrees warmer than the March average of 36.0 degrees. The long term average high and low temperatures for March at Kimball are 49.8 and 22.2, respectively.
Only spotty and light precipitation fell across the Panhandle over the March 7-13 period, almost entirely in the form of rain. Six of 13 stations reported zero precipitation. Seven stations reported light rain with totals ranging from 0.16 inches at Harrisburg to 0.01 inches at Lodgepole. Panhandle precipitation averaged 0.03 inches for the week, compared to the 30-year average of 0.24 inches. Since April 1, 2016, Panhandle precipitation stands at 95 percent of the 30-year average, ranging from 124 percent at Alliance to 58 percent at Sidney 3 S. Since October 1, 2016, Panhandle precipitation stands at 87 percent of the 30-year average, ranging from 118 percent at Hemingford to 39 percent at Sidney 3 S.
Soil temperatures climbed 1-5 degrees across the Panhandle for the March 7-13 period: Alliance 34.9 degrees; Gordon 34.9 degrees; Mitchell 38.2 degrees; Scottsbluff 38.5 degrees; and Sidney 40.5 degrees.
Winds near Kimball averaged west-northwesterly and sometimes very breezy over the March 7-13 period. Gusts for the week averaged 43 mph. High gust for the week was 64 mph on March 7.

March 17 Weather Almanac

Here’s an overview of March 17 temperature and precipitation highs, lows, and averages over the preceding 123 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 17, 2016): Daily high temperature 44 degrees, overnight low 16 degrees, average temperature 30.0 degrees. Precipitation zero, snowfall zero, snow depth zero.
The warmest March 17 on record was 78 degrees in 1938. The coolest March 17 high temperature was 26 degrees in 1924. The coldest March 17 overnight low was -3 degrees in 1958. The warmest March 17 overnight low was 37 degrees in 1972. Over the years since 1893 the high temperature on March 17 has averaged 50 degrees, the overnight low 24 degrees, the daily average 36.5 degrees, precipitation has averaged 0.03 inches, snowfall 0.3 inches, snow depth zero inches.
The highest March 17 precipitation recorded over the last 123 years was 0.34 inches
in 1952.
Snow has fallen on March 17 at Kimball 23 times over the last 123 years. The greatest March 17 snowfall was 3.0 inches in 1993. Measurable March 17 snow depth was reported in 22 of the last 123 years. The greatest March 17 snow depth was 4.0 inches in 1990.

U.S. Drought Monitor

(March 14) High Plains: A warm, windy, and dry week dominated the High Plains, with only scattered rain over the region. Conditions are drying out with the windy and warm weather and any moisture recently received has been evaporated quite rapidly. Abnormally dry conditions were expanded over southeast Nebraska and into eastern Kansas while moderate drought was expanded over eastern Kansas as well. In southwest and south-central Kansas, moderate and severe drought were expanded slightly this week too. This area will need to be monitored closely for further degradation if precipitation does not materialize.
National Summary: Active weather across the Midwest during the beginning and end of the current period brought rain and severe storms over the region. Warm and windy conditions dominated conditions on the Plains; wildfires were a great concern throughout Oklahoma and Kansas, with multiple fatalities associated with the fires. Temperatures from South Dakota into Texas were 6-9 degrees above normal, with portions of eastern Nebraska and eastern Kansas 9-12 degrees above normal. Much of the West was cooler than normal with departures of 3-6 degrees below normal. Rain and snow over parts of northern California and into the coastal regions of Oregon and Washington continued the active pattern that has been consistent over the West Coast. The driest areas of the Southeast did pick up some precipitation, but most areas were normal to slightly below normal for the week.
For more information on the U.S. Drought Monitor visit: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu

U.S. Conditions and Weather Report

(March 14) Early-week wind and warmth across the central and southern High Plains, combined with low humidity, cured grasses, and underlying drought, resulted in explosive wildfires and locally significant destruction of property, including fences, farm buildings, and thousands of livestock. In addition, there were at least six human fatalities.
Dry weather extended beyond the Plains into the Southwest, and also affected the southern Atlantic States. Showery weather covered the Northwest and stretched from the western and central Gulf Coast States into the Ohio Valley and the lower Great Lakes region.
Weekly precipitation totaled at least 4 inches in parts of the Pacific Northwest, and locally reached 1 to 3 inches across the interior Southeast. Snow was mostly confined to the northern U.S., including the northern Plains, Northeast,
and Northwest.
Although early-season warmth continued in many parts of the country, unusually cold air began to settle across the nation’s northern tier. Weekly temperatures ranged from as much as 10 degrees below normal in northern sections of Montana and North Dakota to more than 10 degrees above normal across portions of the south-central U.S.
In the Southwest, a gradual warming trend led to an increase in the snow-melt rate. Although the Southeast escaped a freeze, concerns persisted regarding the potential impacts of a spring cold snap on blooming fruits and other sensitive vegetation.

USDA Weekly Weather and Crop Reports

Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming

Weekly Crop Progress and Condition reports have ended for the 2016 growing season. Monthly reports will be issued December through March on the first Monday of the month. Weekly reports will resume March 6 for the 2017 season.

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