Drought continues to be the big pest

Regina Bird

Drought continued to plague the plains during the month of October. Beneficial rains needed weren’t widespread and many spots slid into worse drought conditions.

This continued to push ranchers to sell off cattle in many Plains states as drought stressed feed sources.

Wildfires burned homes and crops not yet harvested in parts of Nebraska as dry conditions plus strong winds led to furious fires and scorched thousands of acres late in the month.

The only benefit of the dry stretches that have been occurring is the quick harvest progress that has been made. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, all major crops were at or ahead of the 5-year averages for harvest completed.

October was also another month with big temperature swings. Record highs were realized in Brownsville, Texas, two days in a row Oct. 16 and 17. Farther north, Chanute, Kansas, and Norfolk, Nebraska, experienced record lows that same week.

A spurt of fall severe weather also left its mark in parts of the Plains late in the month. This included an EF-1 tornado in Jarrell, Texas, Oct. 24, leaving one person injured.

The November outlook doesn’t swing in favor of helping the drought situation. Precipitation for the month of November will likely total up below normal from the southern Plains into southern Nebraska.

Temperatures for the next month will also likely be above average for the southern Plains along with all of Kansas and Nebraska.

For that same area, temperatures should actually stay warmer than we typically see through the next three months.

Through January, the southern Plains will likely still experience dry conditions with precipitation below seasonal norms.

The continued lack of beneficial moisture will keep drought ongoing for most of the southern to central Plains.

La Niña is still expected to reign in the global view through winter. Beyond that, a transition to ENSO-Neutral is currently looking probable.

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