Weather Update for Nebraska - October Could Set a Record

Weather Update for Nebraska - October Could Set a Record

October 10, 2013

Al Dutcher shares his forecast on this week's Market Journal.

Oct. 8 Drought Monitor for Nebraska

Figure 1.  The Oct. 8 Drought Monitor showed a significant reduction in the drought area. See the key for the map  and supporting data.


The unofficial tornado count from last week's widespread severe weather stands at 18-21. (We won't have the official count until the federal shutdown ends as NOAA (NWS) employees are not permitted to conduct storm assessments, only actions that have a human safety factor (i.e. forecasts, warnings). Most locations east of Kearney received over 1.50 inches of moisture, with the area around Hastings and pockets of eastern Nebraska seeing 4- to 5-inch totals. Unofficially, over 8 inches was reported near Wolbach. The northern Panhandle saw the worst of the snow, with the biggest total being reported by cooperative observers at just over 8 inches in the Crawford area. Significant cattle deaths occured in this area and in western S.D., which was hard hit by the storm.

This week's Drought Monitor (Figure 1) shows a one-category decrease for eastern Nebraska, the northern Panhandle, and northeastern Cherry County. Unfortunately, southwest and west central Nebraska failed to meet the criteria necessary for a one-category reduction. Last Monday, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center released a 30-day forecast calling for below normal moisture across the entire state for October. It was just one to two days later that this powerful storm swept across Nebraska.

Let’s put this storm in context. Typical October precipitation is between 1.75 and 2.25 inches for the eastern third of Nebraska. Last week's totals exceeded normal October moisture for most of eastern Nebraska, the northern Panhandle, and sections of extreme northern Nebraska. In fact, quite a few locations received double the normal October moisture, with isolated pockets receiving three times the normal moisture for the month. Many of our long-term stations across eastern Nebraska could set all-time records for October with a couple more moisture events this month. To be a Top 10 October requires 5 inches of moisture; breaking the record requires 6-7 inches.

More Rains Forecast for the Next Week

The outlook going forward appears to favor another system beginning as early as Thursday evening across western Nebraska, then moving into the western Dakota’s from Friday through Saturday. Models indicate light moisture for eastern Nebraska as the main energy stays west and northwest. Another system is poised to move through the state late this weekend into early next week. It has the potential to spread more rain across western Nebraska with lighter amounts in eastern Nebraska. The total seven-day moisture from these two systems is projected at 0.75-1.25 inches for the western third of the state, 0.25-0.75 inches for central Nebraska, and 0.50-0.75 inches for eastern Nebraska. Much cooler conditions are in store after the second system passes our region, with high temperatures projected to be in the 60s and 70s.

Longer term, another system looks like it will swing through the central Plains next weekend. Current projections put southeast Nebraska on the northern extent of the precipitation shield. A much more robust system moves through the following Monday or Tuesday and has the potential to generate substantial moisture if current trends verify. A lot of very cold air is expected to sweep in behind this system, possibly bring another snowstorm.

While you couldn’t buy moisture in August through mid-September, now the atmosphere appears poised to make up for this deficit, creating a challenging harvest.

Al Dutcher
Extension State Climatologist



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