Nebraska state climatologists predict below-normal temperatures through March. Despite a warm-up to close out the week, another blast of below normal air is expected to filter in over the upcoming weekend.
Above normal temperature projections were recently removed from the March outlook. This time last year, the Heartland was experiencing temperatures ranging from 12-15 degrees above normal.
Al Dutcher, state climatologist in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, says the aggressive storm pattern the state has seen in the last few months will most likely continue through spring, but should shift to the north and impact the northern plains of North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana, making for favorable storm conditions this spring.
Snowpack in northern Canada, along with below-normal temperatures for March, should favor additional snow in the northern plains. If snowpack across southern Canada remains in place through March, it would further support cooler than normal conditions through April.
"It would also be supportive of spring thunderstorm activity across the Central Plains," said Dutcher.
Precipitation this spring will be critical as the state is in worse shape at this time this year than it was at this time last year. Long range patterns look promising with several storms systems moving across the region, providing a very good opportunity for a significant moisture outbreak.
Dutcher said even if moisture this spring does materialize, it won't reduce the hydrological effect from this drought anytime soon. He recommends all producers and ranchers have a drought plan in place.
Snowpack across the central Rocky Mountains is also very poor this year. March and April are typically two of the biggest months for snowfall, which could provide moisture to recharge the south and North Platte River Basin.