Thursday, January 24, 2013

Western U.S. Drought Update with Nebraska Concerns

The attached map shows the October 1, 2012-Janaury 24, 2013 Percent of Normal precipitation for the western U.S..  

The lack of snow continues to heighten concern across much of the West. While there is plenty of time to make up ground, last year’s low snow pack across the central and southern Rockies in particular has several interests watching closely to see if a strong finish to winter can bring about more promising stream flow forecasts for the dry season come summer

This is critical information, since the bulk of precipitation in our western states comes during the winter and a deep snow pack is necessary to recharge the lakes and reservoirs in the Spring as well as to supply water for the major rivers that are ultimately used for irrigation.

Of particular concern to us in Nebraska is the source region for the water that comes into the North and the South Platte Rivers.  Precipitation has been well below normal for the Colorado and Wyoming basins that feed water into the Platte River. This is NOT good news for us in Nebraska. Note that much of  Colorado  has only received 50-69% of normal precipitation this winter with similar conditions in SE Wyoming (with one SE Wyoming basin only receiving 49% of normal precipitation).  Winter is far from over, but the forecast out for the next two weeks (see the second map below) indicates very little change in the weather pattern, meaning a continuation of below normal precipitation for the Colorado and Wyoming regions.  The exception to this is the Pacific Northwest which appears to have, for the most part, near normal to above normal precipitation since October 1.

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