La Niña may bring hot, dry weather to western Nebraska
"We're in a second year La Niña event," said State Climatologist Al Dutcher. "This event developed over the last month or month and a half."
When we look at statistics on La Nina events across Nebraska, we find 10 since the 1950s. Seven have gone into the second year.
If the state's divided east and west, the eastern half tends to be wetter and cooler in February during a La Niña event, Dutcher said. Conditions will be drier and cooler in March, then wetter and cooler in April. From that point forward conditions become generally warmer and drier.
"In western Nebraska, the only month we see above normal precipitation is April and that's a week trend at best," Dutcher said.
Overall, during La Niña, conditions tend toward warmer and drier, peaking in June and August. The longer the event continues, the more intense the hot and dry conditions.
Soil moisture has been less than optimum in the area west of North Platte since last October, Dutcher said.
"It's important to get some recharge in this area during the next month or we're going to see a rapidly increasing dry pattern that is likely to accompany reduced agricultural production," Dutcher said.
Recent cold temperatures were a result of a very active northern jet stream bringing arctic air into the region. Significant moisture is yet to fall this winter, but that's not surprising given the flow coming out of the northwest.