Warmer, Drier Conditions Forecast for Next Week - UNL CropWatch, May 2, 2013

Warmer, Drier Conditions Forecast for Next Week - UNL CropWatch, May 2, 2013

May 2, 2013

What a cruel joke Mother Nature can play on us. Another aggressive upper air trough moved through the central Plains this week and brought conditions typical of late March. Rain, thunderstorms, freezing rain, sleet, and heavy snow were reported across the state. The most significant snowfall accumulations were reported across the southern Panhandle and northeast Nebraska with totals approaching 6 inches. Snowfall amounts of 1-3 inches were common across much of central and eastern Nebraska.

US map forecasting May temperatures - NOAA

Figures 1-2. The Climate Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this week released temperature (Figure 1, above) and precipitation (Figure 2, below) outlooks for May. There is a likelihood in central and eastern Nebraska of below normal temperatures and in eastern Nebraska above normal precipitation in May. (Source: NOAA Climate Prediction Center)

US map forecasting May precipitation

According to the Nebraska office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service only 3% of the corn acreage had been planted by April 28, compared with 40% on this date last year and the five-year average of 26%. Although planters were rolling April 29-30, many sat idle because of the impending rain/snow and forecasts for temperatures dropping to the upper 20s to upper 30s.

Planting activity will likely be delayed for at least five days across eastern Nebraska where liquid equivalent precipitation totals ranged from 1 to 3 inches. Precipitation totals of 0.25 inches to 1 inch were common across western Nebraska, with the lightest totals reported across the northern Panhandle and the southwest corner of the state.

The upper air trough responsible for this late snow has shifted southeast of the state and formed a cutoff low. This low will slowly migrate toward the lower Ohio River valley this weekend as the western U.S. upper air ridge builds eastward. Clouds and scattered showers are possible across the eastern third of Nebraska through Sunday, while western Nebraska should remain dry.

Temperatures are expected to slowly moderate through the middle of next week. Eastern Nebraska should be stuck in the 50s due to extensive cloud cover before warming into the 70s by Tuesday. Western Nebraska will experience a quicker warm-up with highs in the 70s possible by Sunday. If the models are correct, there could be some 80°F highs across western Nebraska by the end of next week.

Chances for precipitation are relatively low for most of next week. Models indicate that isolated showers or thunderstorms could develop during the afternoons from Wednesday through Saturday. The best opportunity for widespread precipitation is projected for Thursday afternoon through Saturday evening.

Weather models are having a difficult time resolving whether the central plains will see an aggressive precipitation pattern or remain dry May 12-18. The latest models are trending wetter, but confidence is low. It may be a challenge to get the corn crop planted by month’s end if the wetter forecast verifies.

To add more fuel to the fire, the Climate Prediction Center has just issued their updated 30-day forecast (Figures 1-2). Much of the central third of the United States is projected to experience below normal temperatures during May. In addition, an area of above normal moisture is projected for eastern Nebraska and the entire state of Iowa.

Al Dutcher
Nebraska State Climatologist