I know. I’m obsessed with the weather, it is true. I admit it. I watch TV weather reports with amazement. I listen for updated radio reports and read everything I can about the weather, trying to catch differences in reports from varied sources. I was an animal science major in college, but had to sneak an ag meteorology class into my course schedule.
So, it should be no surprise that I sat in on a session at a farm show in Norfolk recently featuring Al Dutcher, Nebraska’s state climatologist. Dutcher was a featured speaker at scores of venues last spring, because we were coming off a terrible drought and everyone wanted to know what would be next. Although the drought has eased somewhat in parts of the state since 2012, Dutcher’s comments and predictions are still watched very closely by farmers and ranchers.
Last fall’s precipitation events in October helped to recharge the soil moisture profile in much of the state, particularly in northeast Nebraska, Dutcher told producers attending his session. Although farmers were concerned about wetter corn and harvest, the precipitation in October was extremely important, especially after the 2012 drought. The bad part about the earliest event in October was the tragic early season blizzard conditions that killed tens of thousands of cattle in the Panhandle and north into the Black Hills region. However, consequent rain events in the fall also helped place some of the state on much better moisture footing than we were a year ago at this same time.
The areas where the soil has been recharged could be at risk for some flooding this spring, Dutcher said. Snow pack in the Rocky Mountains has been nearly normal this winter, helping alleviate concerns about the major watersheds and adding to the possibility that many reservoirs could begin to recharge.
While winter months have been dry, Dutcher said that it isn’t that uncommon to have drier than normal weather in the winter and there isn’t much correlation between moisture during the winter and precipitation in the following growing season months.
Dutcher will probably be the first to tell you that nothing is certain when it comes to weather. Several parts of the state, particularly in the southwest and west, are still experiencing drought conditions in one form or another and soil moisture is going to continue to be a concern, at least for the time being.
Here is this week’s discussion question. What is your weather prediction for the rest of the winter? Please feel free to leave your comments and observations here.
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