Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Precipitation Comparison: last 7 days (Top) vs. last 30 days (Bottom)

Maps of % of normal precipitation for last 30 days shows way above normal precipitation for about the whole state of Nebraska. Compare to that, % normal precipitation for last 7 days drops way below the normal precipitation. It reached the highest and the lowest scales on the map for many parts of the state. These maps were obtained from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

State finally starting to dry out?

The HPRCC publishes a map every Monday showing the soil moisture conditions at AWDN stations across the state of Nebraska. The Soil Moisture Index (SMI), as featured in the maps, is an index applied to the volumetric water content at the depths of 10, 25, and 50 cm. It is averaged over those three depths and scaled such that 5.0 represents field capacity and -5.0 represents the wilting point. Measurements are made under grass covered, rain fed conditions and may not necessarily be representative of soil moisture conditions in fields with standard row crops.

Two weeks ago most of the state was coming off a five day period where 3-9 inches of rain fell and many AWDN sites had SMI's that suggested the soil at these locations had reached saturation.

Soil moisture lesson of the Day:

For those unfamiliar with the difference between saturation and field capacity, a saturated soil represents a situation where all pores of the soil are completely filled with water and additional rainfall will ultimately run off. Field capacity represents the soil after water has drained from the larger pores but still exists in the smaller pores. A soil profile at field capacity is considered "full" but a small amount of rainfall at this condition would not automatically run off.

But back to the topic at hand..
As I alluded to earlier, most stations in the state were very moist and flash flooding was an imminent threat. In the following week to 10 days, there was a slight shift in the overall weather pattern and western and north-central Nebraska were able to dry out and as of yesterday, a few sites in these areas have an SMI below 0.0, indicating that the soil profile is closer to the wilting point than to field capacity. In other words, the roots of plants will have to work harder to overcome tension, which in turn can cause a stress on vegetation. Prolonged stress can be particularly detrimental to the common row crops we have in Nebraska, so if you see some farmers with their pivots on in this area this week, know that they aren't necessarily wasting water.

On the other hand, the southern and eastern regions of the state are just now getting to dry out. But don't wish for this sunny, dry weather to persist for too long. Ten days with no rainfall would probably cause the SMI to be near or possibly even slightly lower than 0.0 at many of the sites that have just recently received so much rain.

So the moral of the story for today is this: Yes, we've had copious amounts of rain this spring and summer, but it will be all for nothing if the rest of the summer is dry and especially if it's dry and hot. So don't look at your local farmer like he's lost his mind if you hear him wishing for rain a week from now, because we will probably need it; else pivots (west of Hwy 77) and lawn sprinklers everywhere will start getting a workout.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Very Wet June 2010 in Nebraska

This map, created by the National Weather Service, shows how wet it has been during June 2010 (June 1 through June 27) in Nebraska.
The wettest area in Nebraska stretches from Albion to Tekamah where over a foot of rain has fallen this month. The greatest total was in Humphrey, Nebraska with 16.95 inches of rain. This region has seen significant flooding along its creeks and rivers.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Preliminary Flood Damage Estimates exceed $13M

Recent floods in Nebraska caused more than $13 million damage to roads, bridges and other public property, state and federal officials said Friday. It is still a preliminary estimate and an actual number may increase since, it does not include damage to agriculture or individual homes.

See the link below.

Researchers Call for 'No-Regrets' Approach to Climate Warming

Researchers Call for 'No-Regrets' Approach to Climate Warming

The strategy, detailed in the journal Science, prepares people for a hotter and drier Southwestern U.S. through water conservation and the continued development of ways to harness energy from the sun, wind and Earth.
The map shows the warming from 2000 through 2009.

The hottest Temperatures lag the Summer Solstice

Why do the seasons lag the daylight amount?

The shortest day (least daylight) is Dec 21st (1st day of winter), but coldest is usually late Jan or early Feb. The same goes for June 21st (1st day of summer), where it's generally warmer in the following months. Shouldn't Dec 21st be the coldest day and June 21st the warmest day in the northern hemisphere? The answer is "no" .

This is called the seasonal lag in temperatures. For example, Lincoln, NE:
June 21, 2010: Sunrise 0555 AM, Sunset 9:02 PM (15 hours and 7 minutes of daylight)
June 21, 2010: Sunrise 0613 AM, Sunset 8:53 PM (14 hours and 40 minutes of daylight)

Lincoln Average high temperature June 21 is 87 F; July 21 is 90 F

Although the amount of daylight is decreasing after June 21, it still exceeds the loss of heat to space and the temperatures continue to rise for 4-6 weeks. Think of the analogy of stopping a car. Hitting the brakes, it takes some time for the vehicle to stop going forward.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Very Wet June 2010 in Lincoln

After 9.88 inches of rain this month, Holmes lake in Lincoln is out of its banks. Note the park bench in the distance and close up you can see a sidewalk (light tan color) beneath the water. Currently 6th wettest June since records began in 1887.

Heavy Precipitation Impacts High Plains Region

Check out these locations which have already received enough rainfall this month to make the top 10 wettest Junes on record (last updated 06/22/10):


Month to Date Precipitation (inches)

June Rank


Period of Record

Blue Hill 4 SW, NE





Ericson 6 WNW, NE





Rawlins, WY





Schuyler, NE





Taylor, NE





Columbus 3 NE, NE


2nd wettest



Elgin, NE


2nd wettest



Greeley, NE


2nd wettest



Purdum, NE


2nd wettest



Tekamah, NE


2nd wettest



West Point, NE


2nd wettest



Dodge, NE


3rd wettest



Fullerton, NE


3rd wettest



Gregory, SD


3rd wettest



Medicine Bow, WY


3rd wettest



Wakefield, NE


3rd wettest



Alliance 1 WNW, NE


4th wettest



Anselmo 2 SE, NE


4th wettest



Forestburg 3 NE, SD


4th wettest



Norfolk, NE


4th wettest



Oakdale, NE


4th wettest



O’Neill, NE


4th wettest



Minden, NE


5th wettest



Minot Intl AP, ND


5th wettest



Chambers, NE


6th wettest



Osceola, NE


6th wettest



Ainsworth, NE


7th wettest



Grand Island, NE


7th wettest



De Smet, SD


8th wettest



Fremont, NE


8th wettest



Lincoln, NE


9th wettest



Tyndall, SD


10th wettest



Nebraska-Nocturnal Thunderstorm Capitol

Does it seem to you that most of our (Eastern Nebraska) thunderstorms occur during the night? If so, your impression is correct. Eastern Nebraska has over 60% of its thunderstorms occur during the night and this is the highest percentage of anywhere in the U.S. Typically thunderstorms peak late afternoon during the hottest time of the day. Note the 65% in southeast Nebraska making it the area for greatest amount of nocturnal thunderstorms in the U.S. The map is from a comprehensive study of Great Plains thunderstorms by Dr. Bob Balling of Arizona State University (

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Wet June in Lincoln, Nebraska

PHOTO: Holmes Lake, Lincoln, NE, is out of its banks (note the park bench surrounded by water).
As of June 21, Lincoln has received 8.58 inches of rain for the month of June.

This makes June 2010 the 9th wettest June on record with 8 days remaining and more opportunity to push the total higher.

Lincoln Extremes Highest Total Precipitation inches
Days: 6/1 - 6/30 Length of period: 30 days
Years: 1850-2010
Top 15 Wettest June Precipitation Totals

Rank Value Ending Date
1 12.93 6/30/1967
2 11.24 6/30/1908
3 10.71 6/30/1965, 6/30/1914
5 10.20 6/30/1947
6 9.76 6/30/1951
7 8.83 6/30/1902
8 8.59 6/30/2008
9 8.58 6/30/2010
10 8.56 6/30/1964
11 8.40 6/30/1899
12 7.78 6/30/1891
13 7.67 6/30/1983
14 6.99 6/30/1894
15 6.93 6/30/1949

Thursday, June 17, 2010

June 2010 Flooding in Nebraska

A persistent pattern of afternoon thunderstorms and tropical heat (upper 80's and low 90's) should remain over eastern Nebraska for the next week. Precipitation totals for the month of June range from less than 3 inches in far Southeast Nebraska to as much as 12 inches in Northeast Nebraska. There will be a continued risk of river flooding in Northeast Nebraska as long as this pattern remains in our area.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

May 2010 Global CLimate Warmest on Record

From NOAA:
The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for May 2010 was 0.69°C (1.24°F) above the 20th century average of 14.8°C (58.6°F).

This is the warmest May since arecords began in 1880.

For March–May 2010, the combined global land and ocean surface temperature was 14.4°C (58.0°F) —

This was the warmest March-May on record.

And, each of the months, individually, March, April and May were also the warmest on record.

see more at:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Record daily rainfall on June 13 for Lincoln, NE

Lincoln, NE.

June 13, 2010: Record daily rainfall of 1.88 inches. Old record, set in 1952, was 1.40 inches.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

May 2010 Statewide Temperature Ranks

From NCDC State of The Climate:
National Overview:
Temperature Highlights - May
During May cooler-than-normal temperatures in the western U.S. were counterbalanced by warmer-than-normal temperatures in the east, creating a national temperature near the long-term average.
Regionally, a persistent pattern with a high-pressure ridge (associated with warmer conditions) in the east and a western trough (cooler conditions) was especially evident. The Northeast and Southeast Climate regions each had their tenth warmest May on record, while the Northwest and West had their fifth and tenth coolest May, respectively.
On the state-to-state level, Idaho had its second coolest May on record, while it was Montana's fourth coolest, Wyoming's and Oregon's seventh coolest, Utah's eighth, California's ninth, and Nevada's tenth coolest such period.
Rhode Island observed its second warmest May on record and Florida tied for its second warmest. Other states much warmer than normal during May included: Louisiana (4th warmest), Massachusetts (5th warmest), Connecticut (6th warmest), New Hampshire (7th warmest), Mississippi and New York (each 8th warmest), and New Jersey (9th warmest).

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

May State of the Climate Report

NOAA’s State of the Climate report shows the May 2010 average temperature for the contiguous United States was 60.8 degrees F, which is 0.2 degrees F below the long-term (1901-2000) average. May’s average precipitation was 3.10 inches, 0.23 inch above the 1901-2000 average.

To read more, click here.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Arctic snow and Ice, June 2010

While we are already experiencing summer temperatures here on the Great Plains, winter snow cover and ice lingers up in the Arctic. Check out this web site from time to time and you can watch the Arctic Ocean ice diminish and the last of the snow on the North American Continent disappear over the coming weeks.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lincoln, NE, First 90 Degree Day of the Year

Lincoln, Nebraska had its first 90 F or higher temperature of the year on June 1, 2010. How does this compare to the climatological normal? The attached graph shows the large variation from year to year.
The standard 30-year normal is May 21, or Calendar Day 141.
The average for the last 10 years, 2001-2010 is Calendar Day 125 or 16 days earlier than normal.
The 124 year average is Calendar Day 137 as noted by the horizontal black line in the graph.
Year 2010 was June 1, Calendar Day 152; or, 11 days later than normal.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

May 2010 U.S. Temperature & Precipitation Departures from Normal

May 2010 U.S. Temperature Departures from Normal

The western U.S. experienced below normal temperatures for the month of May 2010 and the eastern U.S. experienced above normal temperatures for the month of May 2010. Nebraska had slightly below normal temperatures for the month of May 2010.

May 2010 U.S. Precipitation Departures from Normal
As seen on the attached map, much of the southwestern U.S. and the New England States experienced drier than normal conditions in May 2010. A swath extending from Colorado to Minnesota (and through Nebraska) also experienced a drier than normal May 2010. The Pacific NW, northern Great Plains and much of the SE U.S. had a wetter than normal May 2010.

More of these climate summary maps can be found at:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

May 2010 Climate Summary for Lincoln, NE

May 2010 Lincoln Climate Summary:
Monthly average temperature: 1.5 degrees (F) below normal.
Monthly total precipitation was 3.70 inches which was 0.53 inches below normal.
Highest Temperature: 89 F on May 23
Lowest Temperature: 35 F on May 14
GRAPH: Lincoln daily observed temperatures compared to the normal temperatures. The red line is the normal high and the blue line is the normal low. The top of each vertical bar is the high for the day and the bottom of each vertical bar is the low for the day.

All data in this graph are from the National Weather Service and HPRCC data archives.