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Wed Jan 9, 2013, 10:10 AM

NE State Climatologist; Record Snows Of 125-150 Inches Needed To Eliminate Plains Drought

With a crop in the ground, winter wheat farmers need things to change in a hurry. But climatologists aren’t so sure that will happen. “Unfortunately (the drought is) not over and we’re definitely starting 2013 in a different status than what we entered 2012,” said Michael Hayes, director of the National Drought Mitigation Center based at the University of Nebraska Lincoln.

2012 started with about 28 percent of the mainland U.S. in drought. At that time the worst of it was in Texas and the southern plains. 2013 starts with 62 percent of the lower U.S. in drought and the heart of it is centered on the great plains from the Dakotas down through the Texas panhandle, prime winter wheat country.

Mark Svoboda, a climatologist at the drought center, says farmers could be in dire straits. This year, when we’re already behind the eight-ball when you look at the moisture situation, we’ll be living rain to rain much earlier unless we get a huge spring,” Svoboda said.


Many communities are 10 inches or more behind their normal precipitation for the year. Nebraska State Climatologist, Al Dutcher, said catching up on the drought would require setting more records – for snow. “Our record snowfall is just over 100 inches in a winter,” Dutcher said. “And these deficits are so extensive that if we wanted to completely eliminate (the drought) with snowfall we’d be looking in the area of 125 to 150 inches of snowfall with normal snow equivalency rates. I don’t think anybody wants to see that type of a winter.”



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