For most of High Plains, a dry month ahead

Regina Bird

A month is already in the books for 2018 and while there have been some day-to-day or week-by-week changes in short term weather locally, the big picture remains the same.

With sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific remaining colder than average, La Niña looks to continue through the rest of the winter.

Not only are oceanic conditions pointing to ongoing La Niña, atmospheric conditions are as well. As usual with La Niña events, it looks like La Niña has peaked this winter. An expected possible transition to ENSO Neutral (neither La Niña nor El Niño) should occur during the spring months.

Looking several months ahead, there is some uncertainty on what’s to come in the summer months with long term forecast models not in agreement and pointing to all possibilities.

A look back at the early part of January shows some portions of eastern Texas recording around 1 to 2 inches of precipitation, while the dry spell continued for parts of the Texas panhandle, Oklahoma panhandle and southern Kansas. In parts of those areas a stretch of 95 to 100 days of less than a tenth of an inhch of precipitation was reported. This lack of moisture certainly had an impact on the drought severity in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles and southern Kansas.

Dryness continues

The long term outlook for those areas continues to show unfortunate news. Below normal precipitation is expected to persist in the next month and the outlook into the first part of spring also points to below normal precipitation.

With ongoing drought in parts of the plains, at least some sort of drought is expected to persist for mainly the western half of Texas, the panhandle of Oklahoma and parts of eastern Oklahoma and western Kansas along with a good part of Colorado (excluding northern Colorado).

Long term trends favor temperatures averaging out above normal in February from Colorado into western Kansas to the panhandle and southern Oklahoma to all of Texas. Even into the first part of spring, temperatures are anticipated to be mostly above average for Colorado, western Kansas, Oklahoma and in Texas. On the other side of the spectrum, temperatures are expected to average below normal the next month in the northern Great Plains.

I’m always keeping an eye to the sky (and the weather patterns), so stay tuned for the March update.

Regina Bird grew up on a farm near Belleville, Kansas. The views from the farm helped spur her interest in weather. She is a meteorologist for NTV and KFXL in central Nebraska. Follow her on Twitter: @ReginaBirdWX.