Wet fall, chilly spring lessen threats of drought in Nebraska despite worries elsewhere

Wet fall, chilly spring lessen threats of drought in Nebraska despite worries elsewhere
World-Herald News Service

Despite national worries about intensifying drought in the south-central and southwest U.S., climatologists say there is no immediate threat of drought spreading into Nebraska.

That said, southern Nebraska is the area of the state at greatest risk of seeing already dry conditions drift into drought, said Al Dutcher, associate state climatologist.

Factors that could help the state avoid drought have included the fairly wet fall and an unusually chilly spring, said Dutcher and Brian Fuchs, climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Wet weather in the fall replenished streams, lakes and groundwater because plants had gone dormant and were no longer pulling moisture from the ground. Likewise, the cool spring has slowed the growth of vegetation, lessening the demand for water.

“We are probably at a typical drought risk,” Dutcher said.

Fuchs said there’s no clear global pattern that would tilt this part of the U.S. toward wet or dry in the months ahead. The region has equal chances of a wet, dry or normal precipitation from late spring to midsummer.

Still, nagging at the back of Dutcher’s mind has been the tendency of June to turn hot and dry.

“That’s my biggest fear,” he said. “We’ve seen it for two consecutive years, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see it again.”

If that happens again, the intense drought in the southwest U.S. could creep northward, Dutcher said.

“It’s gory down there, there’s no other way to say it,” he said of Oklahoma and Texas.

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