Winter stress felt throughout the High Plains region

Regina Bird

Wintry weather brought stress to producers from the northern Plains into the central Plains during the month of January as several systems rolled across those areas.

These systems brought mixed precipitation to some while others dealt with blizzard conditions.

Weather conditions weren’t all quiet farther south either. Texas and Oklahoma had their share of hail, damaging winds and tornadoes on Jan. 10. Filtered reports from the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center had 376 total hail, wind or tornado reports across the entire United States that day.

Toward the end of January, an expansive area of precipitation brought much needed moisture to parts of Texas and Oklahoma. Although it covered a wide area, there were still some parts of those states that missed out. While the moisture was helpful to relieve some drought, a lack of moisture within the past six months means there’s still a lot of catching up to do in portions of the southern Plains.

Specifically in Texas, as of Jan. 21, roughly 57% of the state had some sort of drought—from abnormally dry to extreme—based on the drought monitor. Forecast moisture in the coming months should lead to at least some improvement to drought conditions in Texas.

ENSO-neutral continues at this point in the season. Looking ahead to the next season, both specific sea surface temperatures and atmospheric conditions should stay mostly consistent with ENSO-neutral. In fact, we could even see ENSO-neutral remaining into summer.

Now getting back to the current season, below average precipitation is currently expected for the month of February stretching from eastern Oklahoma into eastern Nebraska. For temperatures the next month, below normal numbers appear likely from the northern Plains into northern Oklahoma. Southern Texas will see the opposite with above average temperatures forecast into the next month.

All of the state of Texas should see temperatures average above normal for the next three months. The northern Plains will continue the trend of below normal temperatures in the coming months. In that area, they should also see above average precipitation for the next few months.

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

Editor’s note: Regina Bird grew up on a farm near Belleville, Kansas. The views from the farm helped spur her interest in weather. Following high school, she went on to get a bachelor’s degree in meteorology from the University of Kansas. She currently works as a meteorologist for NTV and KFXL in central Nebraska. Follow her on Twitter: @ReginaBirdWX.