Plant While the Sun Shines; Storms Likely Late Next Week

Plant While the Sun Shines; Storms Likely Late Next Week

For all maps: EC means equal chances for A, N, and B. A means above normal; N means normal; and B means below normal. CPC 30-day temperature outlook for May 2014
Figure 1. NOAA Climate Prediction Center outlook for May 2014 temperatures. 
30 Day precipitation forecast May 2014
Figure 2. NOAA Climate Prediction Center outlook for May 2014 precipitation.
CPC 90 day forecast
Figure 3. NOAA Climate Prediction Center outlook for May-July 2014 precipitation.

The upper air low that was responsible for our recent stretch of severe weather and subsequent cold weather has moved east.  In its wake, an upper air ridge is projected to build into the central U.S. and provide excellent planting weather through the middle of next week.  Temperatures should warm from the 70s, with widespread 80s possible next Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Another strong low pressure takes aim at the central Plains during the second half of next week and there is potential for heavy rainfall and another severe weather outbreak. Current weather models are more aggressive with precipitation across the Panhandle and southwestern Nebraska with this system. This certainly would be welcome news, as many locations across the western third of the state have been exceptionally dry the past 30 days.

The National Weather Service Central Region Headquarters has been releasing experimental two- to four-week forecasts to regional partners for the past few months. Although I am not allowed to release the exact text of this product until a decision is made to make it operational, their models point toward an active pattern across the central and western Corn Belt.  Heavy rainfall and several severe weather events are currently projected, so we will see how well they perform now that we are in the heart of the spring season.

The Climate Prediction Center (CPC) released its updated 30-day forecast for May and there is a radical shift in precipitation forecasts for the United States. Figure 1 indicates a tendency for above normal moisture across the entire state. Nebraska lies within an area of above normal moisture forecasted to fall from the Pacific Northwest southeast through the eastern Corn Belt.

Below normal temperatures (Figure 2) are forecasted for the northern Plains during May and Nebraska lies just south of this region.  You will notice that the above normal moisture channel forecasted for May lies just south of the below normal temperature forecasted area. This would suggest that the CPC feels that a northwest flow regime will develop during May and Nebraska lies directly underneath area that will serve as the battleground between cold conditions to our north and hot conditions to our south.

The CPC released a very favorable summer forecast for western Nebraska. The CPC is inclined to believe that the southwestern U.S. monsoon season will be stronger than normal as a weak to moderate El Nino develops during the late summer and early fall. Figure 3 shows an expansive area of above normal moisture encompassing the southern half of the Rockies and Great Basin, with spillover into western Nebraska.

The significant snowpack in the central and northern Rockies should translate into significant recharge for Platte watershed reservoirs and aid in the development of early summer thunderstorm activity. If this late season moisture does develop as projected, I would expect to see much better moisture conditions for fall seeded crops and the potential for limited relief in drought stricken areas of southwest and west central Nebraska. the opportunity exists for significant recovery for drought stricken areas of southwest and west central Nebraska.

Al Dutcher
Nebraska State Climatologist

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