Dry conditions felt in many regions

Drought stressed cornstalks
Regina Bird
Regina Bird

Wildfires from late February continued to rage into March in Texas. One of those fires (the Smokehouse Creek Fire) was the largest in Texas history and burned more than 1 million acres. Extensive livestock loss was reported because of the fire, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Dry conditions continue to plague the panhandle of Texas, where wildfires recently occurred. The USDA reported that across Texas livestock producers were forced to continue supplemental feeding the past month.

Pasture and rangeland loss during the large fire will only stress those resources more. The Texas panhandle, along with other parts of western Texas and western Oklahoma, are likely to see drought conditions continue or worsen in the next three months as the forecast does not show favorable precipitation trends.

On a larger scale, El Niño conditions continued, but trends of specific ocean and atmospheric conditions showed a weakening El Niño. The transition to ENSO-Neutral is forecast to take place during spring or early summer. At some point in the summer, La Niña conditions are forecast to develop.

For the month of April, western Texas should see temperatures above seasonal norms.

That same area is also forecast to see below average precipitation for April. At the same time, the eastern side of the state of Texas, along with eastern Oklahoma, eastern and central Kansas and Nebraska, will likely see precipitation totals add up above typical spring totals.

Through June, those same parts of the plains along with western Kansas should see the trend of above normal precipitation, while western Texas will unfortunately likely see below normal precipitation in that longer time frame.

Through June, temperatures will average above normal for Texas, Oklahoma, southwest and eastern Kansas and eastern Nebraska.

I’m always keeping an eye to the sky (and the weather patterns), so watch for May’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 worked as a television meteorologist for nine years in Nebraska. Follow her on Twitter: @ReginaBirdWX