Weekly Weather Outlook and Update: Dec. 14, 2023

Weekly Weather Outlook and Update: Dec. 14, 2023

Chance of Moisture

A slow-moving upper level low centered over the southwest will slowly work its way east over the next few days. We are going to remain north of the center, but southwest Nebraska has already picked up some decent moisture and prospects are looking good for south-central and eastern portions of the state to pick up some moisture through early Saturday, Dec. 16. Amounts may even exceed a half inch in parts of south-central Nebraska between Holdrege and Hastings. As the upper low starts moving to the northeast, an area of light showers will develop to the northwest of the upper low across eastern Nebraska. At this time, it appears to be all rain and I don't see anything that makes me think otherwise.

Eight- to 14-day precipitation outlook map
Figure 1. Eight- to 14-day precipitation outlook from the Climate Prediction Center.
Eight- to 14-day temperature outlook map
Figure 2. Eight- to 14-day temperature outlook from the Climate Prediction Center.

Mild and Dry Week Forthcoming

A cold front will pass through the state on Sunday afternoon to evening, which will lead to more seasonal temperatures on Monday. Otherwise, upper level ridging will dominate next week, which will lead to dry and mild conditions for the state for the remainder of the week. Record temperatures are not expected but it will be 10-15°F above average on a consistent basis the second half of next week.

A change may be coming as we get closer to Christmas. Details this far out are fuzzy, but it looks like a storm will be hitting California next weekend and then moving into the central U.S. around Christmas. At this time, it appears that there will be a decent potential for rain in eastern Nebraska and maybe snow in western Nebraska. Given it's still 10 days out, I'm hesitant to make any projections but it's possible that a white Christmas for parts of the state aren't completely out of a question.


The latest U.S. Drought Monitor showed some expansion of abnormal dryness into parts of southwest Nebraska, in particular Frontier, Hitchcock and Red Willow counties. Otherwise, there was no change on the map this week and a little over 25% of the state is still in drought. Most of the state received no measurable precipitation in the last seven days (prior to the morning of Dec. 14), with the exception of the southwest corner of Nebraska. This was, of course, well after the cutoff for the U.S. Drought Monitor this week. As of the current writing, light to moderate rain was falling over portions of central and eastern Nebraska.

U.S. Drought Monitor as of Dec. 12
Figure 3. U.S. Drought Monitor as of Dec. 12, 2023.
Precipitation from Dec. 7 to Dec. 14
Figure 4. Precipitation from Dec. 7 to Dec. 14 in Nebraska.
Root zone soil moisture percentiles as of Dec. 14
Figure 5. Latest root zone soil moisture percentiles according to SPoRT LIS.

Soil temperatures at four inches are generally in the mid-30s across the state, with a few Panhandle locations in the lower 30s. Locations receiving precipitation currently or within the next 24 hours are places where soils temperatures are safely above freezing, which means infiltration won't be an issue. Many of the areas that are getting moisture out of this are also locations where soil moisture percentiles are on the low side, so any moisture is welcome.

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