February was unforgettable for the Plains

Regina Bird

This will be a winter that some won’t forget as February brought dangerous, historic cold and wintry precipitation.

Impacts were widespread from the northern Plains to the southern Plains as records were shattered for cold temperatures and mixed precipitation only added to the problems.

Widespread power outages that gripped most of Texas also led to water concerns as the outages stretched for days.

Not only were numerous daily records set with the arctic blast of air, some all time record lows were noted.

Interestingly enough, from Nebraska into the southern Plains, the first half of February was snowier than normal. The opposite was the case for the northern Plains, which led to concerns for crops without protective snow cover as the intense cold moved in.

Seasonal snow numbers through late February were also noteworthy for parts of Oklahoma and Texas. Since the beginning of the season, a large part of Texas had marked 10 inches or more of snow with several spots in the Panhandle over 20 inches fell.

Texas agriculture was already hit hard with recent drought, but this dangerous cold brought more stress to not only crops but cattle too. Supplemental feed was in high demand and keeping water available were just a couple of the problems for those with cattle. A wide range of crops suffered from the extreme cold in Texas. From citrus fruit not yet harvested to emerging corn, the complete damage will be assessed as time progresses.

Now looking to the months ahead, models continue to point to a change to ENSO-neutral for the spring. It looks like that could remain even into summer. This will follow the ongoing La Niña conditions that we have had this winter.

For March, from the southern plains into Nebraska above average temperatures should occur. That same area is also forecast to see below normal precipitation.

Below average moisture is actually forecast to remain the next several months from Texas into Nebraska. The trend for temperatures should continue through May too with numbers expected to average above seasonal norms.

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