Ag Weather Forum

December Drought in Plains

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst
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The High Plains is almost entirely in the grip of some stage of drought as of mid-December. The same circumstances cover the remainder of the Plains as well. (USDM graphic by Nick Scalise)

Dryness is intensifying in the U.S. Great Plains. Except for a portion of northwestern Nebraska, the entire region is now in some phase of drought. The beginning stage, D-zero or Abnormally Dry, expanded in the U.S. Drought Monitor as of Dec. 12 to this expanse. Drought conditions have been well-noted in the Far West, especially with the devastating wildfires in California, but the Plains dryness is also significant. Drought is now a topic not just in the western Dakotas and Montana, but throughout the entire region.

Here's a summary of the High Plains weekly drought discussion from the U.S. Drought Monitor's weekly posting:

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"Most of the region had above-average temperatures and little to no rainfall. The lack of precipitation continues a pattern of dryness in the region over at least the past couple of months. Lincoln, Nebraska, has received only 0.08 inch of precipitation since Oct. 15, its driest such period on record. Abnormally dry conditions (D0) expanded greatly over Colorado into western Kansas, and northeastward into Nebraska. Moderate drought (D1) deteriorated to severe drought (D2) in south central Kansas, adjoining the already severe drought condition in north central Oklahoma. Abnormally dry conditions were expanded across the remainder of southeastern Kansas. Moisture there is less than half of average. Soil moisture levels are down and surface water supplies (stock ponds) are shrinking."

The forecast offers very little moisture for the Plains during the 10-day period leading into the Christmas holiday. Central Kansas, for example, has nothing for precipitation -- zero -- in the DTN forecast table looking out to Dec. 28.

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