Welcome rain and sunshine boost spring growth across region

KIMBALL, Neb. – A slow-moving, moisture-laden weather front stalled over the Nebraska Panhandle and parts of the surrounding tri-state region over the weekend (May 18-20). The stalled system delivered a great deal of rain on Saturday and Sunday, averaging more than 2.3 inches across the Panhandle.

The heavy rain brought fieldwork to a halt and caused some localized flooding in low-lying areas. Where rain was heaviest some recently planted crops were likely washed and will have to be replanted. Nevertheless, the abundant rain was on balance a very good thing for established crops such as winter wheat, and the precipitation certainly boosted cool season grass growth across pastures and rangeland.

Regional Forecast and Conditions

As of Tuesday morning, the temperature at sunrise was 48 degrees with heavy fog and mist. Winds were calm and the barometer was rising at 29.98 inches of mercury (in/Hg). Skies were expected to clear by 10 a.m. and the day was expected to be warm and partly sunny with light winds and a chance of afternoon thunderstorms. Air temperatures were expected to peak at 77 degrees before falling to an overnight low of 50 degrees. Wednesday and Thursday were expected to be similar but slightly warmer with an increased chance of afternoon and evening thunderstorms.

Today’s weather (Friday, May 25) is expected to be sunny and warm with little chance of precipitation. The temperature is expected to peak at 86 before falling off to 50 degrees overnight. Saturday and Sunday are expected to be similar and breezy with a chance of afternoon and evening thunderstorms. Daytime highs should range in the mid-80’s’s with overnight lows falling into the 40’s.

Monday through Wednesday are expected to remain warm and mostly sunny with a chance of thunderstorms. Daytime air temperatures should range in the mid-70’s and overnight lows in the lower 50’s. A 20-40 percent chance of rain showers is forecast for the period, including an elevated chance of afternoon and evening thunderstorms.

Air temperatures remained largely unchanged across the region last week. At 13 selected stations across the Panhandle 24-hour temperatures averaged 56.9 degrees. At Kimball the May 15-21 daytime high averaged 68.42 degrees, about one-half degree cooler than the previous week. The weekly high temperature was 83 degrees on May 17. Overnight lows were slightly cooler also, averaging 43.42 degrees at Kimball, about 1 degree cooler than the previous week. The weekly low temperature was 36 degrees on May 20. The weekly mean temperature at Kimball was 55.92 degrees, about 1.25 degrees cooler than the previous week, and about 1 degree warmer than the May average of 55.0 degrees. The long-term average high and low temperatures at Kimball for May are 69.3 and 40.7, respectively.

All 13 selected Panhandle stations reported rain over the May 15-21 period. Rainfall totals ranged from 5.03 inches at Scottsbluff to 0.30 inches at Bridgeport. Across the Panhandle snowfall averaged zero inches and rainfall averaged 2.33 inches. Last week’s averages were zero inches and 0.51 inches respectively.

Soil temperatures warmed again across the Panhandle over the May 15-21 period: (this week/last week/change): Alliance 59.6/57.5 (+3.1) degrees; Gordon 60.8/59.8 (+1.1) degrees; Mitchell 58.6/58.1 (+0.5) degrees; Scottsbluff 63.2/59.7 (+3.5); and Sidney 65.2/61.1 (+4.1) degrees.

Winds near Kimball averaged east-southeasterly and generally light – except for those produced by thunderstorm activity – over the May 15-21 period. Gusts for the week averaged 27.42 mph. High gust for the week was 49 mph on May 17.

May 25 Weather Almanac

Here’s an overview of May 25 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: Daily high temperature 70 degrees, overnight low 48 degrees, average temperature 59.0 degrees. Precipitation 0.02 inches, snowfall zero inches, snow depth zero inches.

The warmest May 25 on record was 97 degrees in 1934. The coolest May 25 high temperature was 41 degrees in 1992. The coldest May 25 overnight low was 29 degrees in 2005. The warmest May 25 overnight low was 61 degrees in 1896. Over the years since 1893 the high temperature on May 25 has averaged 71 degrees, the overnight low 45 degrees, the daily average 58.1 degrees, precipitation has averaged 0.10 inches, snowfall zero inches, snow depth zero inches.

The highest May 25 precipitation total was 1.26 inches liquid equivalent (rain) in 1927. The greatest snowfall was 6.0 inches in 1950. Greatest snow depth was 2.0 inches in 1950.

Snow has fallen on May 25 at Kimball 3 times over the last 125 years, with quantities of 6.0 inches (1950) and a trace (1907, 2010).

U.S. Drought Monitor

National Summary: During the 7-day period ending Tuesday morning, areas of locally heavy rain provided drought relief from the Plains to the East Coast, though much of the Southeast was dry. Toward the end of the time frame, an influx of tropical moisture associated with a slow-moving disturbance generated heavy to excessive rainfall in Florida, with rain associated with this broad area of unsettled weather overspreading the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic States.

In contrast, dry, hot weather maintained or exacerbated drought from the southern High Plains into the Southwest. Likewise, despite the generally unsettled weather pattern, pockets of dryness and drought lingered or intensified in the Upper Midwest and northern Plains.

High Plains: The overall trend toward improving conditions in the south contrasting with increasingly dry weather in the north continued. From northeastern Colorado into central and southern Kansas, areas of moderate to heavy rain (1-3 inches) netted reductions in drought intensity and coverage.

The most significant improvements were made in south-central Kansas, where a large area of 2 to 4 inches of rain (locally more) fell on areas of Severe (D2) to Extreme (D3) Drought.

Moderate to heavy rain (1-3 inches) was similarly beneficial in northeastern Colorado, trimming the aerial extent of Abnormal Dryness (D0) and Moderate Drought (D1).

Farther north, outside of locally beneficial downpours (1-3 inches) in northwestern South Dakota, acute short-term dryness over the past 30 days resulted in expanding D0 across southwestern South Dakota, southeastern North Dakota, and northeastern Montana, while a more prevalent dry signal over the past 90 days (50 percent of normal or less) led to expanding D1 and D2 in northeastern North Dakota.

West: Outside of beneficial rain and high-elevation snow in the north, pronounced short- and long-term dryness led to drought intensification and expansion across the Southwest.

In southern Idaho, Abnormal Dryness (D0) was removed from most locales north of the Snake River, as recent rain and snow have pushed Water Year (to date) precipitation at or above the 35th percentile. However, sub-par seasonal precipitation coupled with increasingly dry conditions over the past 30 days led to the expansion of D0 in northeastern Montana and Moderate Drought (D1) in southwestern Idaho.

Abnormal Dryness was expanded westward across central and northern portions of California’s Coastal Range due to a sub-par water year coupled with increasingly dry conditions over the past 30 days (deficits of 2 inches or more, locally less than 10 percent of normal).

Farther south, Severe, Extreme, and Exceptional Drought (D2-D4) were increased from southern California into much of New Mexico. Changes were most pronounced in eastern portions of the region, where Water Year precipitation was in the 2nd percentile or lower, particularly across the northern third of New Mexico. Satellite-derived vegetation health data indicated conditions have deteriorated rapidly across the region, with the worst vegetation indices with respect to normal noted from Arizona southeastward into southern New Mexico.

Drought Monitor authors are in close contact with local and regional experts from the Southwest, and further detailed analysis will likely result in additional intensification and expansion of drought as the situation is assessed over the upcoming weeks.

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

USDA Weekly Weather and Crop Reports


Storm systems at week’s end brought locally heavy rain to mostly northern and eastern counties, while conditions in western and southern counties continued to deteriorate due to drought.

Northeastern county reporters noted moisture last week continued to improve dryland crop and pasture conditions, although isolated damaging hail was also observed.  Heavy weekend moisture delayed fieldwork with weed emergence in wheat an issue due to limited field access.

East central counties received varying amounts of moisture.  Some localities received over an inch, while others reportedly received very little.  Where received, moisture improved overall conditions.

In southwestern counties, drought conditions remained critical and a reporter noted many producers are facing drastic reductions in irrigation water supplies.

Topsoil moisture in the San Luis Valley remained short with some alfalfa stands showing improvement, while others started being replanted with other crops.  Fall potato and small grains planting progressed well last week and barley emergence was noted to pick up.

In southeastern counties, reporters noted moisture was sporadic and several areas continued to decline due to extended drought.  Livestock producers began reducing herd numbers in response to poor pasture conditions, and detrimental grasshopper infestations were noted.  A reporter also noted alfalfa was being sprayed for increased insect presence.

As of May 21, 2018, snowpack in Colorado was 43 percent measured as percent of median snowfall. The Southwest and San Luis Valley were 4 and 5 percent, respectively.

Stored feed supplies were rated 7 percent very short, 22 percent short, 70 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus.

Sheep death loss was 43 percent average and 57 percent light.  Cattle death loss was 82 percent average and 18 percent light. 


For the week ending May 20, there were 4.3 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 2 percent very short, 15 short, 72 adequate, and 11 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 22 short, 72 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Corn planted was 88 percent, near 86 last year, and equal to the five-year average. Emerged was 53 percent, near 49 last year, and ahead of 48 average.

Soybeans planted was 68 percent, ahead of 50 last year and 51 average. Emerged was 25 percent, ahead of 12 both last year and average.

Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 6 poor, 31 fair, 51 good, and 11 excellent. Winter wheat headed was 4 percent, well behind 57 last year and 29 average.

Sorghum planted was 31 percent, ahead of 17 last year, and near 27 average.

Oats condition rated 1 percent very poor, 3 poor, 20 fair, 72 good, and 4 excellent. Oats planted was 95 percent, near 99 last year and 98 average. Emerged was 86 percent, behind 96 last year and 91 average. Headed was 1 percent, near 5 last year and 3 average.

Pasture and range conditions rated 3 percent very poor, 11 poor, 31 fair, 46 good, and 9 excellent.


Wyoming experienced rain throughout the state during the week that has helped green up pastures.

Seventeen of the 34 reporting stations reported above average temperatures for the week with the high temperature of 85 degrees recorded at Old Fort Laramie and a low of 27 degrees at Yellowstone.

Above normal moisture was reported at 16 of the 34 reporting stations with one station (Powell) reporting no precipitation.  Torrington reported the most moisture with 4.08 inches.

Crop reporters noted the lateness of the crops this year, but moisture has been helping to improve pasture and range conditions.

Irrigation water supply across Wyoming was rated 2 percent poor, 8 percent fair, 89 percent good, and 1 percent excellent.

Stock water supplies across Wyoming were rated 1 percent very short, 8 percent short, 90 percent adequate, and 1 percent

Video News