2021 Annual Climate Summary

2021 Annual Climate Summary

Sunset in Lincoln, NE. Photo courtesy Heleena Pettee, High Plains Regional Climate Center.

A Year of Extremes

2021 was a year of extremes in the High Plains. January began the year with above normal temperatures across the region. Monthly temperature departures were as high as 15.0 degrees F (8.3 degrees C) above normal. This warmth led to drought expansion in the Dakotas which is abnormal to see in winter. Historic cold gripped the region in February as bitter cold persisted for 1-2 weeks, which made this event particularly impressive due to its longevity. Avalanche danger was extremely high in the Rockies throughout the winter as early season snowfall was weakened by dry conditions. The Southern portion of the region experienced an extremely wet early spring with above normal precipitation. The heavy precipitation recharged soil moisture and built snowpack in the mountains. Despite this heavy precipitation, flooding was limited in the region due to dry soil conditions.


Drought conditions intensified and expanded throughout the spring and persisted through the remainder of the year. Drought conditions were most extreme in the Northern Plains where crops and rangelands were impacted by the lack of moisture and heat. Over 80 percent of pastures and rangeland in the Dakotas were in poor to very poor conditions by the end of the summer. Poor forage, low stock ponds, and pests led to increased cattle sales across the region. The dry conditions and heat impacted crops and led to early maturation
and harvest. Pollinators and wildlife were also impacted as a result of drought conditions. Dwindling beehives led to a decrease in the Dakotas honey production this year. Fawn survival rates were lower than average with a lack of forage and some fish populations decreased from low river levels. As 2021 came to an end, 65 percent of the region in D1-D3 conditions, and 88 percent of the region remained in abnormally dry (D0) conditions.

Above: Departure from 1981-2010 normal temperature (left) and percent of normal precipitation (right) for 2021 in the High Plains region. Maps produced
by the High Plains Regional Climate Center and are available at: http://hprcc.unl.edu/maps/current .

Precipitation

2021 remained another dry year across the High Plains. The majority of the region experienced below normal precipitation for the year. While late winter and early spring started off wet in the region, that quickly changed as summer began and drought conditions started to expand and worsen throughout the remainder of the year. While only a couple of locations ranked in the top 10 wettest/driest for the year, many locations set new monthly records throughout 2021. Chadron, NE ranked the 5th driest year on record with 11.50 inches (292.1
mm) of precipitation recorded for the year. In contrast, Sisseton, SD had their 8th wettest year on record with a total of 28.98 inches (736.1 mm) of precipitation.

Snowpack for the 2020-21 season was below normal for the region resulting in portions of the upper Missouri River Basin runoff being much lower than average. Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) peaked above Fort Reservoir at the end of March with 86 percent of the normal peak, while the reach between Fort Peck and Garrison Reservoirs peaked at the end of April at 96 percent of the normal peak. Both areas ended the season below average with Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) 80 percent of average above Fort Peck Reservoir and 65 percent of average between Fort Peck and Garrison reservoirs. As a result, as summer began, Basin runoff was 69 percent of average. As this year’s snow season (2021-2022) began, early season snowpack across the region is below normal as a result of a warmer and drier start to the winter season. While it is still early in the 2021-2022 season, this can become a concern to farmers as they look to spring planting.


The severe weather season in the region was less active for the year. In June, only four tornado warnings were issued across Kansas, which is well below the June average of 29 (based on data going back to 1986). At the end of peak severe weather season in July for the High Plains, every state aside from Colorado was 50 percent below their yearly total for tornadoes, according to the Storm Prediction Center. South Dakota and Nebraska both had their lowest number of severe weather warnings since 1995. Aside from this, there were some extreme severe weather events including an unusual December Derecho that moved across the plains causing damaging winds and tornadoes (see page 4 for details).


The following locations had notable precipitation records during 2021:


• Akron, Colorado had its wettest spring on record with 10.78 inches (274 mm) of precipitation (period of record 1937-2021).


• Tribune, Kansas reported 5.66 inches (144 mm) of rain on May 16th, which was the highest 1-day total precipitation ever recorded at this location (period of record 1893-2021)


• Denver, Colorado reported its first measurable snow of the season on December 10th surpassing the previous record of November 21st, 1934, by 19 days.


• Grand Forks, North Dakota had its driest July with 0.42 inches (11 mm) of precipitation (period of record 1893-present). This was 3.10 inches (79 mm) below normal.

Above: Total precipitation in inches (top) and departure from normal
precipitation in inches (bottom) for 2021. These maps are produced
by HPRCC and can be found on the Current Climate Summary Maps
page at: http://hprcc.unl.edu/maps/current

Temperature

Temperatures across the region were above normal for the year, with the northern part of the region being well above normal. The majority of the region experienced departures of 2.0 degrees F (1.1 degrees C) with isolated parts of North Dakota observing departures of above 5.0 degrees F (2.8 degrees C). The year started with above normal temperatures but cooled off dramatically with a historic outbreak of Arctic air that affected the region during the middle of February. Multiple records were broken during the span of several weeks. Outside of cooler temperatures in March and May, the region experienced above normal temperatures throughout the year.

The following locations had notable temperature records during 2021:


• Sisseton, South Dakota: Warmest year on record. The average temperature was 48.0 degrees F (8.9 degrees C), which broke the previous record of 47.1 degrees F (8.4 degrees C), set in 2016 (period of record 1931-2021)


• Bismarck, North Dakota: Also observed the warmest year on record. Average temperatures were 47.2 degrees F (8.4 degrees C), which broke the previous record of 46.5 degrees F (8.1 degrees C) from 2016 (period of record
1886-2021)


• Omaha, Nebraska: Warmest December temperature on record at 74.0 degrees F (23.3 degrees C), December 15 (period of record 1871-2021)


• Bottineau, North Dakota: Lowest temperature on record at -51.0 degrees F (-46.1 degrees C), February 13 (period of record 1893-2021)

• Grand Junction, Colorado: Warmest temperature on record at 107 degrees F (41.7 degrees C), July 9 (period of record 1893-2021)


• Bismarck, North Dakota: Most number of 100.0 degree F (37.8 degrees C) in a single year, 15 days

Drought Conditions

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, significant improvements to drought conditions were observed throughout the High Plains this past year. At the beginning of 2021, 81 percent of the region was in moderate to exceptional (D1-D4) conditions. The drought was particularly devastating in Colorado, where 28 percent of the state was in D4 conditions and 76 percent of the state experienced extreme drought (D3) at the start of the year.

During the course of the year, conditions deteriorated drastically then rebounded in North Dakota. At the peak of the drought on May 18th, 85 percent of the state experienced D3 conditions and 17 percent of the state was within D4 conditions. The drought caused serious issues for agriculture during the late spring and summer months. At the year’s end, conditions have improved substantially with only 8 percent of the state in D3 conditions. Colorado began
the year in bad shape but gradually improved throughout the year. Despite the improvements to drought conditions, the state observed destructive wildfires in late December which destroyed hundreds of homes north of Denver.

At the end of the year, 65 percent of the region was experiencing D1 to D3 conditions. Although the majority of the region was in drought conditions, the entire region has been without D4 conditions to end the year. Even with the improvements this past year, 88 percent of the region remained in abnormally dry (D0) conditions.

The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced as a joint effort of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Drought Mitigation
Center, U.S. Department of Commerce, and the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). For current Drought Monitor
information, please see: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/.

Noteworthy Events

Historic February Cold: Historic cold impacted the region in February. Many areas in the region observed record breaking temperatures and temperature departures exceeding 40 degrees F (22.2 degrees C) below normal occurred
in Nebraska. The extreme cold was most notable due to its duration which lasted for 1-2 weeks. The Southwest Power Pool, which serves the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas, was most impacted with rolling blackouts and requests to residents to conserve energy until temperatures increased.


March Precipitation: A slow-moving storm system brought heavy rain and snow over the southern High Plains. Many areas received over 200 percent of their normal precipitation for the month of March. Numerous daily and monthly records were set, and some locations received more precipitation from this storm than what they would expect for the entire month. While this system caused areas of flooding, road closures, and canceled flights, it did help
to replenish soil moisture and improve drought conditions.


Colorado Mudslides: Localized heavy rains in burn scarred areas led to multiple mudslides along I-70 in Colorado. Starting in late June, multiple mudslides resulted in the closure of the major interstate and traffic delays. July 29th, more than 100 motorists were trapped on the interstate overnight with some taking shelter in a nearby tunnel. This July event closed I-70 for a record 15 days
before debris could be removed to make way for motorists.


December Derecho: On December 15th, a powerful derecho moved across the High Plains and traveled more than 650 miles across the country. Impacts in our region were observed across Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas. Preceding the storm, daily temperature records were being set all across the region. High winds from the derecho set new daily wind records, created dust storms, and damaged structures and powerlines. Tornadoes also occurred in areas,
Nebraska exceeded their previous December tornado record of 5 after 27 tornadoes were confirmed across the state.


Drought Across the Region: Drought conditions persisted throughout the year with impacts seen across the region. Pastures and rangeland were in poor to very poor conditions, with poor water quality and forage, resulting in increased
cattle sales. Extreme heat resulted in earlier than average maturation and harvest for crops as well as pest issues as a result of grasshoppers thriving in warm conditions. Wildlife and pollinators were also impacted with lower than average pronghorn fawn survival rates and dwindling beehive sizes.


Wildfires: Warm and dry conditions resulted in multiple wildfires across the region this year, the most severe in Wyoming and Montana. Smoke from the wildfires could be seen across the High Plains with hazy skies.

Snow in Lincoln, NE. Photo courtesy Heleena Pettee, High
Plains Regional Climate Center.

Flooding at Holmes Lake in Lincoln, NE. Photo courtesy Rezaul Mahmood, High Plains Regional Climate Center.

Drought stressed crops in KS. Photo courtesy Chip Redmond

Burn scarred area along Pourde River in CO. Photo courtesy Dannele Peck

Station Summaries: By the Numbers

Download the PDF Below:

December 2021 Climate Summary

December 2021 Climate Summary

Sunset in Western Kansas, Photo Courtesy Gannon Rush

Active End to the Year for the Region

Warmer temperatures dominated most of the High Plains, while precipitation varied across the region. The southern portion of the region was dry, while drought-stricken parts of North Dakota and western Colorado received beneficial precipitation. The warm and dry conditions in the southern portion of the region attributed to several noteworthy events.

A strong low-pressure system moved across the southern part of the region, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. In Colorado, a 107 mph (172 km/h) wind gust was recorded in Lamar. The winds there caused power outages and damage to homes. To the east, Kansas experienced severe winds which led to substantial amounts of dust being stirred up. These dust storms resulted in the closure of several highways and numerous crashes along Interstate 70 in the western part of the state. The dry weather and intense winds also contributed to an outbreak of wildfires in north-central Kansas. Meanwhile, in neighboring Nebraska, both severe storms and snow occurred in a several-hour span. An extremely unusual derecho that was strong and fast-moving crossed the state, with numerous 75 mph (121 km/h) plus wind gusts and dozens of tornadoes reported. After the storm had passed, temperatures significantly dropped which led to snow. This light snowfall and the remaining high winds led to the first issuance of a Snow Squall Warning by the National Weather Service in Hastings, NE.

At the end of the month, a devastating wildfire broke out north of Denver, CO on the 30th. Winds gusted from 70 to 100 mph (113 to 161 km/h), with a maximum gust of 115 mph (185 km/h) recorded in Arvada. These fires rapidly spread across the foothills and engulfed up to 1,000 homes, making this among the most destructive fires in Colorado state history.

Above: Departure from 1991-2020 normal temperature (top) and percent of normal precipitation (bottom) for December 2021 in the High Plains region. Maps
produced by the High Plains Regional Climate Center and are available at: http://hprcc.unl.edu/maps/current .

Precipitation

Precipitation varied across the High Plains for December. The northern plains including North Dakota, western Colorado, and portions of Wyoming and South Dakota observed above normal precipitation for the month. In the southern High Plains, below normal precipitation was recorded, with areas in Kansas and eastern Colorado receiving less than 5 percent of their normal precipitation.

This precipitation gradient resulted in some locations ranking in the top 10 wettest and driest December on record (see page 6 for December monthly rankings). Wichita, KS observed their driest December on record with 0.01 inches (0.25 mm) of precipitation. Chadron, NE tied with 2010 and other years for the driest December on record, observing a trace of precipitation. While the southern High Plains observed below normal precipitation, on December 15th an intense derecho moved through the region impacting Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas with damaging winds, rain, tornadoes, and dust.

The largest precipitation was observed in western Colorado, with areas receiving over 3 inches (76 mm) above normal. Grand Junction, CO observed their wettest December on record with 2.08 inches (53 mm) exceeding their previous record of 2.05 inches (52 mm) in 2007.

Snowfall also varied across the region. Sisseton, SD observed their 2nd snowiest December on record with 20.3 inches (52 cm) of snow. Grand Forks, ND observed their 3rd snowiest December on record with 27.0 inches (69 cm) of snow, with the record being 36.0 inches (91 cm) and set in 2010. In contrast, Topeka, Wichita, and Dodge City, Kansas observed their least snowy December on record, tied with multiple years, with 0.00 inches of snow.

Above: Total precipitation in inches (top) and departure from normal
precipitation in inches (bottom) for December 2021. These maps are
produced by HPRCC and can be found on the Current Climate Summary Maps page at: http://hprcc.unl.edu/maps/current.

Streamflow

Dry conditions in the early winter season resulted in the Upper Missouri River Basin mountain snowpack levels being below normal for December. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as of December 28th, Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) above Fort Peck Reservoir is currently at 6.1 inches (mm), while the reach between Fort Peck and Garrison Reservoirs is 6.2 inches (mm). While the early season snowpack is below normal, it is still early in the season with ample time for the snowpack to return to normal. In the Plains, areas with snow on the ground at the end of December were observed in the Dakotas. Meanwhile, warm and dry conditions resulted in snow-free areas across the remainder of the plains.

Temperatures

Above normal temperatures prevailed throughout most of December. Except for North Dakota, much of the region recorded much above normal temperatures. The southern part of the region experienced temperature departures of 6.0 – 10.0 degrees F (3.3-5.6 degrees C) above normal. This led to many areas ranking in the top 10 warmest December on record. Grand Island, NE (period of record 1895-2021) and Norfolk, NE (period of record 1893-2021) both observed their warmest December on record. Several locations in both Colorado and Kansas recorded their second warmest December because of these much above normal temperatures. Please see page 6 for additional rankings.

On the 15th, an extremely unusual and extreme event occurred in the High Plains. Temperatures in the southern part of the region exceeded 70.0 degrees F (21.0 degrees C) with departures up to 39.0 degrees F (21.7 degrees C) above normal in some areas. Many locations set their daily high record and their warmest temperature on record for December. Omaha, NE (period of record 1871-2021) observed their warmest December day on record, with a temperature of 74.0 degrees F (23.3 degrees C). These warm conditions lasted through most of the day until an extreme pressure system passed through, causing temperatures to drop over 40 degrees F (22.2 degrees C). The abnormally high temperatures combined with the significant winds from the pressure system led to large wildfires breaking out in north-central Kansas. The smoke from these fires was carried across Kansas and Nebraska, with the haze being seen as far away as Chicago. Over 163,000 acres (66,000 hectares) were burned before the fires were contained.

Above: Daily temperatures for December 2021 along with extremes
and normals values in Norfolk, Nebraska.

Drought Conditions

The trend of above normal temperatures and dryness across the southern High Plains continued through the month of December. Drought conditions continued their spread and intensified in Kansas, Colorado, and Nebraska while the Dakotas observed improvements. Despite the intensification of drought conditions this past month, the region remained free from exceptional drought (D4) conditions.

Kansas experienced the most significant degradations to drought conditions this past month. The amount of the state covered in moderate drought (D1) to D4 increased from 19 percent to over 50 percent during the course of the month. Abnormally dry (D0) conditions now also cover 73 percent of the state. In Colorado, the entire state is now engulfed by D1 to D4 conditions. Despite minimal change to the percentage of the state in severe drought (D2), conditions in the western part of the state improved while the eastern parts declined. Above normal precipitation in the eastern Dakotas led to the reduction of abnormally dry and drought conditions. Throughout the rest of the region, other improvements and degradations were observed. According to the U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook for January, drought improvement is likely in western Wyoming.

The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced as a joint effort of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Drought Mitigation
Center, U.S. Department of Commerce, and the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). For current Drought Monitor
information, please see: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/.

Climate Outlooks

According to the Climate Prediction Center, La Niña conditions remain present and are likely to continue throughout the winter season. A La Niña advisory is in effect. For more information, visit https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf


The National Weather Service’s long-range flood outlook through March indicates a continual decrease in the chance of minor flooding. There is a greater than 50 percent chance of minor flooding in areas of the lower Missouri River Basin for January and that will continue to decrease through March where it becomes a less than 5 percent chance. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), in the High Plains, Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado have above normal wildland fire potential and that is expected to remain through April.

The seasonal temperature and precipitation outlooks combine the effects of long-term trends, soil moisture, and when applicable, the El Niño Southern Oscillation cycle (ENSO). To learn more about these outlooks, please visit http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov.

Temperature

The three-month temperature outlook shows an increased chance of above normal temperatures across the east coast, southern plains, and parts of the southwest. The highest chances of below normal temperatures can be observed in the Northwestern United States. In the High Plains, most of the region has equal chances of above, below, and near normal temperatures, aside from Kansas, and southern Colorado which has increased chances of above normal temperatures.

Precipitation

The precipitation outlook for the next three months indicates below normal precipitation across the Southwest and Southeast of the United States. In the Midwest and Northwest, there are increased chances of above normal precipitation. Across the High Plains there are equal chances of above, below, and near normal precipitation, aside from southern Colorado which has increased chances of above normal precipitation.

Drought

The U.S Seasonal Drought Outlook released on December 31st indicates drought conditions are expected to persist across the Southwest and western High Plains over the next three months. Drought conditions are expected to remain but show minor improvements in the Northwest and California, with some areas likely to observe drought removal. Drought development is likely in the Southeast and south Texas.

Above: The three-month temperature probability outlook (top), the
three-month precipitation probability outlook (middle), and the U.S.
Seasonal Drought Outlook (bottom). For more information on these
outlooks, produced by the Climate Prediction Center, see:
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov

Station Summaries: By the Numbers

Download PDF below

2021 Annual Top 10 Rankings

WarmestTemperature/RankingRecord/YearPeriod of Record
Sisseton, SD48.0 / WARMEST47.1 / 20161931-2021
Bismarck, ND47.2 / WARMEST46.5 / 20161886-2021
Aberdeen, SD47.7 / 2nd Warmest48.1 / 19871893-2021
Valentine, NE51.9 / 2nd Warmest52.0 / 20121889-2021
Alamosa, CO44.2 / 3rd Warmest (tied with 1954)44.7 / 20171906-2021
Rawlins, WY45.0 / 3rd Warmest46.2 / 20121951-2021
Colorado Springs, CO52.0 / 4th Warmest (tied with 2016)59.0 / 20121894-2021
Norfolk, NE51.7 / 4th Warmest (tied with 2005)53.2 / 20121893-2021
Grand Island, NE53.3 / 4th Warmest56.0 / 19341895-2021
Grand Forks, ND43.1 / 4th Warmest44.4 / 20161893-2021
Laramie, WY43.0 / 4th Warmest (tied with 2017)44.2 / 20121948-2021
Chadron, NE49.6 / 4th Warmest (tied with 2020)50.7 / 19811941-2021
Scottsbluff, NE51.4 / 4th Warmest53.0 / 20121893-2021
Dickinson, ND45.6 / 4th Warmest (tied with 1999)46.6 / 19871938-2021
Williston, ND44.5 / 5th Warmest (tied with 1934)46.8 / 19811894-2021
Cheyenne, WY48.1 / 5th Warmest (tied with 2015)49.0 / 20121871-2021
Huron, SD48.8 / 5th Warmest (tied with 2016)50.0 / 19311881-2021
Sioux Falls, SD49.9 / 5th Warmest50.6 / 19311893-2021
Fargo, ND45.2 / 6th Warmest (tied with 2006+)46.7 / 20161881-2021
Omaha, NE54.1 / 6th Warmest55.9 / 19311871-2021
Lander, WY47.4 / 6th Warmest (tied with 2006)49.0 / 20121891-2021
Pierre, SD49.8 / 7th Warmest51.1 / 19991893-2021
Hastings, NE52.9 / 7th Warmest54.7 / 19541894-2021
Salina, KS57.4 / 8th Warmest59.9 / 19311948-2021
Denver, CO52.7 / 9th Warmest (tied with 1946+)54.8 / 19341872-2021
Sheridan, WY47.4 / 10th Warmest (tied with 1983)48.6 / 19341907-2021
North Platte, NE51.6 / 10th Warmest (tied with 2016)54.0 / 19341874-2021
PrecipitationPrecipitation / RankingRecord / YearPeriod of Record
Chadron, NE11.58 / 5th Driest7.61 / 20201941-2021
Sisseton, SD28.98 / 8th Wettest34.92 / 20191931-2021
All data are preliminary and subject to change. + indicates multiple dates, latest date listed. * indicates some missing data for the period.
Data are retrieved through the Applied Climate Information System (ACIS) and are available online through the CLIMOD system.
For more information please contact us: http://www.hprcc.unl.edu/contact.php

December 2021 Top 10 Monthly Rankings

Temperature in degrees Fahrenheit, Precipitation in inches

WarmestTemperature / RankingRecord / YearPeriod of Record
Grand Island, NE35.5 / WARMEST35.4 / 18961895-2021
Salina, KS40.8 / WARMEST40.6 / 19391948-2021
Norfolk, NE32.6 / WARMEST32.4 / 19571893-2021
Topeka, KS43.1 / 2nd Warmest45.3 / 18891887-2021
Colorado Springs, CO40.3 / 2nd Warmest41.0 / 19331894-2021
Wichita, KS44.2 / 2nd Warmest46.4 / 18891888-2021
Akron, CO35.8 / 2nd Warmest36.9 / 19801937-2021
Rawlins, WY28.3 / 3rd Warmest33.5 / 19801951-2021
Dodge City, KS41.3 / 3rd Warmest44.6 / 18891874-2021
Pueblo, CO39.3 / 3rd Warmest42.2 / 18891888-2021
Concordia, KS39.9 / 3rd Warmest41.9 / 18891885-2021
Lander, WY31.5 / 4th Warmest (tied with 1939)34.3 / 19801891-2021
Alamosa, CO26.1 / 4th Warmest28.1 / 19801906-2021
Goodland, KS36.5 / 4th Warmest 39.6 / 19331895-2021
Laramie, WY28.1 / 4th Warmest33.5 / 19801948-2021
Omaha, NE35.9 / 5th Warmest39.5 / 18891871-2021
Lincoln, NE36.0 / 6th Warmest38.6 / 18891887-2021
Hastings, NE34.8 / 6th Warmest (tied with 1956)38.0 / 19571894-2021
Scottsbluff, NE34.6 / 6th Warmest37.0 / 19801893-2021
McCook, NE35.0 / 7th Warmest39.8 / 19571894-2021
Casper, WY 30.1 / 9th Warmest34.3 / 19801939-2021
Valentine, NE31.5 / 10th Warmest35.6 / 18891889-2021
North Platte, NE33.8 / 10th Warmest37.2 / 18891874-2021
Cheyenne, WY34.3 / 10th Warmest39.0 / 19331871-2021
Precipitation Precipitation / RankingRecord / YearPeriod of Record
Chadron, NETrace / DRIEST (tied with 2010+)1941-2021
Wichita, KS0.01 / DRIEST 0.02 / 19501888-2021
Dodge City, KSTrace / 2nd Driest (tied with 2017+)0.00 / 18891874-2021
Topeka, KS0.11 / 8th Driest0.04 / 19961887-2021
Salina, KS0.08 / 10th DriestTrace / 1976+1948-2021
Grand Junction, CO 2.08 / WETTEST2.05 / 20071893-2021
Sisseton, SD1.75 / 4th Wettest2.03 / 19681931-2021
Fargo, ND1.75 / 5th Wettest (tied with 2010)2.28 / 19271881-2021
Grand Forks, ND1.36 / 8th Wettest2.29 / 19181893-2021
Rawlins, WY0.84 / 9th Wettest2.10 / 20101951-2021
Williston, ND1.22 / 9th Wettest2.50 / 20081894-2021
SnowfallSnowfall / RankingRecord / YearPeriod of Record
Topeka, KS0.00 / Least Snowy (tied with 2004+)1887-2021
Wichita, KS0.00 / Least Snowy (tied with 2001+)1888-2021
Dodge City, KS0.00 / Least Snowy (tied with 1933+)1893-2021
Omaha, NE0.8 / 9th Least Snowy (tied with 1954)0.00 / 20041948-2021
Sisseton, SD20.3 / 2nd Snowiest36.0 / 20101931-2021
Grand Forks, ND27.0 / 3rd Snowiest30.2 / 19961893-2021
Bismarck, ND18.5 / 7th Snowiest33.3 / 20081886-2021
All data are preliminary and subject to change. + indicates multiple dates, latest date listed. * indicates some missing data for the period.
Data are retrieved through the Applied Climate Information System (ACIS) and are available online through the CLIMOD system.
For more information please contact us: http://www.hprcc.unl.edu/contact.php

November 2021 Climate Summary

November 2021 Climate Summary

Colorado sunset, Photo courtesy Jennifer Balch

Warm and Dry in the High Plains

Warm and dry conditions were observed across the High Plains in November. Above-normal temperatures were recorded across the entire region with the highest departures 10 degrees F (5.6 degrees C) and higher. Precipitation across the majority of the region was below-normal outside of a portion of northeast North Dakota and a few other isolated areas. These warm, dry conditions led to many impacts within our region.

Horticulturists in Wyoming are concerned after noticing trees beginning to bud as a result of above-normal temperatures in November. While the early budding or blooming can be a pretty sight, it can be damaging to the trees. When blooming early, a sudden drop in temperatures can cause shock to the tree. It can also cause the tree’s flower or fruits not to grow next year as they have exerted all of their energy in growing early. Concerns for tourism in western South Dakota have begun throughout November as it continues to be warm and dry in the region. Many businesses in the western portion of the state, such as the Black Hills, rely on business from winter sports. With the warm temperatures and lack of snow, opening dates have been pushed back without an indication of when they will be able to open. Warm temperatures have also impacted their ability to create synthetic snow, as temperatures 28 degrees F (-2.2 degrees C) or below are needed.

Winter crops have also been impacted by warm, dry conditions. In Kansas, warm temperatures have caused winter wheat to grow more than it should. The additional plant height can cause an increased chance of problems with plant diseases and pests. Around mid-November, the crops begin to become dormant, but the warm temperatures have helped crops continue to grow and as a result, have been using ground moisture due to lack of precipitation. With drought conditions present, pulling from soil moisture is a concern as they look toward next year’s crops.

Above: Departure from 1991-2020 normal temperature (top) and percent of normal precipitation (bottom) for November 2021 in the High Plains region.
Maps produced by the High Plains Regional Climate Center and are available at: http://hprcc.unl.edu/maps/curren
t

Precipitation

November was a dry month for the High Plains with below-normal precipitation across the region. Most of the region observed less than 50 percent of normal precipitation. As a result, departures across the region were below normal, aside from an area of above-normal precipitation in northeastern North Dakota.  The largest departures from normal were observed in southwestern Colorado, eastern Kansas, and eastern Nebraska with totals as much as 3.75 inches (95.25 mm) below normal.

This large area of below-normal precipitation led to many locations ranking in the top 10 driest on record for November (see page 6 for November monthly rankings). Salina, KS observed a trace of precipitation for the month which tied as the 3rd driest November on record. Goodland, KS also received very little precipitation for November receiving 4 percent of normal precipitation. With 0.02 inches (0.50 mm) of precipitation for November, Goodland observed its 7th driest November on record tied with 2014 and 1950. This has led to crop concerns in Kansas as winter crops pull moisture from the soil due to lack of precipitation. This can lead to problems in the crop season next year as soil moisture will be less than optimal.

Colorado, with the largest departure from normal precipitation for November, also observed some concerns as a result of the lack of precipitation. Several locations within the state recorded among their driest on record. Early season snowpack in the mountains is below normal for this time of year which has the state climatologist in Colorado concerned. An above-average snowpack is essential this year due to the current drought. Without the snowpack, water levels along the Colorado River will likely remain low. While it is still early in the season, the longer Colorado goes with little precipitation, the more it with take to make up the deficit.

Despite a dry month, Northeastern North Dakota did receive above normal precipitation for November. While it was not enough to rank in the top 10 for the month, it did help contribute to a change from D1 to D0 drought conditions for that portion of the state.

Above: Total precipitation in inches (top) and departure from normal
precipitation in inches (bottom) for November 2021. These maps are
produced by HPRCC and can be found on the Current Climate Summary Maps page at: http://hprcc.unl.edu/maps/curren
t

Streamflow Update

Above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation for November led to reduced streamflow in areas across the region. This is most present in Montana, where streamflow is below normal to much below normal across most of the state, with some gauges indicating record low streamflow. Below normal to much below normal streamflow can also be observed in portions of Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado, with record low streamflow for the month in areas of western South Dakota and Nebraska. In the lower Missouri River Basin, streamflow remains normal to above normal for most of the area with a few gauges indicating below normal streamflow.

Temperature

Temperatures for the High Plains region were above normal for the month of November. While our entire region observed above-normal temperatures, the greatest departure from normal can be observed in the western half of the region. Temperature departures in the western High Plains were 4 degrees F (2.4 degrees C) and higher with some areas observing temperatures 10 degrees F (5.6 degrees C) or more above normal.

As a result of these above-normal temperatures across the region, many locations ranked in the top 10 warmest November on record (see page 6 for November rankings) and some areas broke daily records throughout the month. Wyoming observed the greatest departure from normal temperatures for November with most of the state 6 degrees F (3.3 degrees C) above normal. Rawlins, WY observed its warmest November on record with an average temperature of 38.9 degrees F (3.8 degrees C) breaking a previous record of 38.5 degrees F (3.6 degrees C) set in 2017. This was a temperature departure of 7.6 degrees F (4.2 degrees C) above normal. A few locations observed their second warmest November on record, which included Colorado Springs, CO. Colorado Springs observed an average temperature of 45.9 degrees F (7.7 degrees C) which was 6.4 degrees F (3.6 degrees C) above normal. Throughout the month many areas in the region also exceeded daily temperature records. Pueblo, CO reached a high temperature of 75 degrees F (23.9 degrees C) for November 29th, which was 1 degree F (0.6 degrees C) above the record for that day set in 1945,1973, and 2003. On November 16th, Yankton, SD observed its warmest temperature recorded this late in the season observing a temperature of 76 degrees F (24.4 degrees C). Denver, CO exceeded its record for the latest measurable snowfall, which previously was November 21st, 1934, with no measurable snow seen in the month of November.

Above: Daily temperatures for November 2021 along with extremes and normal values in Rawlins, WY

Drought Conditions

Above-normal temperatures and dry conditions in the month of November led to the intensification of drought conditions. The southern part of the region saw an increase of severe drought (D2) and moderate drought (D3) as a result of these conditions. Despite this, the region remained free of exceptional drought (D4) conditions. 

Colorado experienced the most significant increase in drought conditions, with D2 and D3 conditions increasing 22 percent during the month in the eastern part of the state. The entire state is now experiencing abnormally dry or drought conditions. Western Kansas saw the introduction of D3 and the slight increase to moderate drought (D1) and D2 conditions after receiving below 25 percent of their normal precipitation. In Wyoming, D3 was reduced slightly in the south-central part of the state but was introduced in the southeastern portion and expanded across the northern part of the state. While in North Dakota, D1 and D2 conditions were reduced in the eastern part of the state after above-normal precipitation this past month. Throughout the rest of the region, other minor improvements were observed. According to the U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook for December, drought development is likely in southern Colorado and southwestern Kansas.


The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced as a joint effort of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Drought Mitigation
Center, U.S. Department of Commerce, and the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). For current Drought Monitor
information, please see: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

Climate Outlooks

According to the Climate Prediction Center, La Niña conditions remain present and are likely to continue throughout the winter season. A La Niña advisory is in effect. For more information, visit https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf

The National Weather Service’s long-range flood outlook through February indicates a continual decrease in the chance of minor flooding. There is a greater than 50 percent chance of minor flooding in areas of the lower Missouri River Basin in December and that will continue to decrease through February where it becomes less than 5 percent chance. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), significant wildland fire potential has returned to normal for the High Plains and is expected to continue to remain normal through January. February, there is a return of above normal wildland fire potential for southeastern Colorado and southwestern Kansas.

The seasonal temperature and precipitation outlooks below combine the effects of long-term trends, soil moisture, and when applicable, the El Niño Southern Oscillation cycle (ENSO). To learn more about these outlooks, please visit http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov.

Temperature

The three-month temperature outlook shows an increased chance of above-normal temperatures for most of the contiguous Unites States. The highest chances for above-normal temperatures can be seen in the Southeast and Northeast portions of the country. In the High plains, the southern portion of the region shows increased chances of above-normal temperatures, whereas, in the northern portion of the region, there is increased chances for below-normal temperatures. In the central portion of the High plains, there are equal chances of above-, below-, and near-normal temperatures.

Precipitation

The precipitation outlook for the next three months indicates below-normal precipitation across the Southwest and Southeast of the United States, whereas above-normal precipitation can be observed throughout the Midwest and Northwest. In most of the High Plains there are equal chances of above-, below-, and near-normal precipitation, aside from a small portion of Colorado and Kansas with increased chances of above-normal precipitation.

Drought

The U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook released on November 18th indicates drought conditions are expected to persist across the Western U.S. and western High Plains over the next three months. Drought conditions are expected to show minor improvements in the Northwest, with some areas likely to observe drought removal. Drought conditions are likely to develop in portions of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Above: The three-month temperature probability outlook (top), the
three-month precipitation probability outlook (middle), and the U.S.
Seasonal Drought Outlook (bottom). For more information on these
outlooks, produced by the Climate Prediction Center, see:
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov

Station Summaries: By the Numbers

All data are preliminary and subject to change. + indicates multiple dates, latest date listed. * indicates some missing data for the period.
Data are retrieved through the Applied Climate Information System (ACIS) and are available online through the CLIMOD system.
For more information please contact us: http://www.hprcc.unl.edu/contact.php.

Download PDF version below

November 2021 Top 10 Monthly Rankings

Temperature in degrees Fahrenheit, Precipitation in inches

Warmest Temperature/ RankingRecord/YearPeriod of Record 
Rawlins, WY38.9 / WARMEST 38.5 / 20171951-2021
Colorado Springs, CO45.9 / 2nd warmest 47.4 / 19491894-2021
Alamosa, CO35.1 / 2nd warmest 38.4 / 20171906-2021
Valentine, NE43.6 / 2nd warmest 44.3 / 19491889-2021
Denver, CO46.3 / 3rd warmest 50.9 / 19491872-2021
Chadron, NE41.7 / 3rd warmest 44.1 / 19491941-2021
Scottsbluff, NE 43.9 / 3rd warmest44.3 / 19491893-2021
Lander, WY40.1 / 3rd wamrest 42.6 / 19491891-2021
Cheyenne, WY42.7 / 3rd warmest 45.2 / 19491871-2021
Goodland, KS45.5 / 4th warmest (tied 2016)46.4 / 19991895-2021
Casper, WY40.3 / 4th warmest 43.7 / 19991939-2021
Laramie, WY38.1 / 4th warmest 40.7 / 19491948-2021
Akron, CO 44.4 / 4th warmest 45.3 / 19991937-2021
Norfolk, NE43.3 / 5th warmest 46.5 / 20011893-2021
Sheridan, WY 41.5 / 5th warmest 45.4 / 19491907-2021
North Platte, NE42.9 / 6th warmest 45.5 / 19171874-2021
McCook, NE44.8 / 6th warmest 46.4 / 19541894-2021
Rapid City, SD40.5 / 7th warmest 46.0 / 19491942-2021
Topeka, KS47.9 / 8th warmest 50.1 / 19991885-2021
Pueblo, CO 45.3 / 8th warmest 47.4 / 19491888-2021
Grand Island, NE44.9 / 9th warmest 46.8 / 20011895-2021
Precipitation Precipitation / Ranking Record / Year Period of Record 
Salina, KS Trace / 3rd driest (tied 1989+ )0.00 / 19541948-2021
Sheridan, WY0.15 / 7th driest (tied 1951)Trace / 19391907-2021
Goodland, KS0.02 / 7th driest (tied 2014+)0.00 / 19391895-2021
Chadron, NE0.08 / 8th driest Trace / 2001+1941-2021
Akron,CO0.05 / 8th driest (tied 1954)Trace / 2006+1937-2021
Rawlins, WY0.16 / 9th driest (tied with 2000)0.03 / 2007+1951-2021
Denver, CO0.07 / 9th driest Trace / 1949+1874-2021
Dickinson, ND0.04 / 10th driest Trace / 1963+1938-2021
All data are preliminary and subject to change. + indicates multiple dates, latest date listed. * indicates some missing data for the period.
Data are retrieved through the Applied Climate Information System (ACIS) and are available online through the CLIMOD system.
For more information please contact us: http://www.hprcc.unl.edu/contact.php

Missouri River Basin La Niña Impacts and Outlook

Typical La Niña Winter Pattern

The image (source: NOAA) above shows the typical pattern in the winter
during La Niña events. The polar jet stream tends to transverse through
the Missouri Basin, making it the dividing line between cold and warm air
masses. This means that colder conditions could be in store for areas of the
upper Basin, while the southern Basin and the Plains could be warm and dry.

Highlights for the Basin

A La Niña develops when sea surface temperatures in the eastern equatorial
Pacific are consistently cooler than average for an extended period of time.
These cool waters affect the location of the jet streams, which impacts weather in North America. The most notable impacts occur in winter.

While no two La Niña events are alike, there are some general patterns that
are predictable. For instance, the polar jet stream is typically further south than usual during La Niña winters.

For the Missouri River Basin states, the typical winter La Niña pattern leads to increased chances for below-normal temperatures across the upper Basin. The northern Rockies may also have increased chances for above-normal snowpack.

La Niña Outlook

Winter Temperature and Precipitation Outlooks: Valid for December 2021- February 2022

As of mid-October, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center outlooks largely follow a typical La Niña pattern for the Missouri River Basin. Generally, the region has increased chances for cooler (blue), wetter (green) conditions across the north, and warmer (orange), drier (tan) conditions across the south. Below-normal temperatures are likely in Montana and portions of the Dakotas and Wyoming, while above-normal temperatures are likely across Colorado, Kansas. Above-normal precipitation is likely across much of Montana and Wyoming, while below-normal precipitation is likely in southern Colorado and Kansas. Much of the region, including the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, western Montana and Wyoming, and Northern Colorado, are likely to observe equal chances of above-, below-, and near-normal precipitation. La Niña conditions have continued this fall and forecasts indicate that this La Niña will strengthen, peaking as a moderate or even strong event in late fall or early winter. According to the Climate Prediction Center, there is an 87% chance that these conditions will last through the winter and about a 60% chance that La Niña will continue into the early spring. A La Niña Advisory is currently in effect.

Potential Winter and Spring Impacts

Changes to normal snowfall patterns for La
Niña. Blue indicates above normal snowfall.
Ice over Missouri River in ND. Photo
courtesy: Michael Swenson.
Missouri River

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the 2021 runoff forecast
for the upper Basin is 15.0 MAF, which is more than 10 MAF below normal. Widespread drought conditions have impacted streamflow and reservoir inflows in certain areas this summer and fall. Even with recent above normal precipitation, it may not lead to increased runoff due to drier-than-normal soils in areas. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers releases from Gavins Point Dam will be reduced to winter rates starting on November 22.

Economy

For the Missouri Basin, impacts in the region could be mixed. For instance,
northern areas expecting a cold snowy winter could have increased costs
for heating and snow removal, in addition to travel difficulties. However,
an increased snowpack in the northern Rockies could be welcomed by ski
resorts and other outdoor enthusiasts.

Agriculture

In the Missouri Basin, widespread drought conditions have contributed to
the fall harvest progressing quickly. However, dry conditions could be an
issue for winter wheat if timely rains do not materialize. Winter outlooks
from NOAA for November through February are leaning slightly towards
above-normal precipitation in northwest Wyoming and much of Montana,
with higher chances in western Montana, which could help to begin
mitigating drought there. Across the region, concerns for the winter may
include calving/lambing issues due to cold conditions in northern areas, and the overwintering of pests due to warm conditions in southern areas

Comparisons and Limitations

Winter Conditions of Past La Niña Events
January – March 2021

Maps courtesy: Midwestern Regional Climate Center

The maps above show the winter conditions of the most recent La Niña
event last winter in 2020-2021. Most of the Basin was cooler (as shown in
green) than average. While precipitation varied in the region, the highest
amounts were seen not in the northwestern portion of the Missouri River
Basin, but in Nebraska, Kansas, and portions of Colorado. The most recent La Niña did not conform to expectations which goes to show that no two La Niña events are the same. As a result, it is important to note that there are limits to the predictability of impacts this winter, and other factors should be considered. For instance, in the Missouri Basin, La Niña is not known to predict: 1) first freeze in the fall, 2) last freeze in the spring, 3) potential for ice storms or blizzards, 4) track or intensity of any single weather system, or 5) potential for drought/flooding in the spring.

MO River Basin Partners

High Plains Regional Climate Center
www.hprcc.unl.edu
National Drought Mitigation Center
http://drought.unl.edu/
National Integrated Drought Information System
https://www.drought.gov/
NOAA NCEI
www.ncdc.noaa.gov
NOAA NWS – Central Region
www.weather.gov/crh
NOAA NWS Climate Prediction Center
www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov
NOAA NWS Missouri Basin River Forecast Center
www.weather.gov/mbrfc
American Association of State Climatologists
https://www.stateclimate.org/
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
www.nwd-mr.usace.army.mil/rcc/
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
https://www.usbr.gov/
USDA Northern Plains Climate Hub
www.climatehubs.oce.usda.gov

Download PDF version below.

October 2021 Climate Summary

October 2021 Climate Summary

Snow in Laramie WY, Photo courtesy Gavin Rush

First Snow for the High Plains

Snow made its first appearance for many portions of the region in October. Cooler fall temperatures and above-normal precipitation in Wyoming, The Dakotas, and the higher elevations in Colorado contributed to the appearance of the season’s first significant snowfall.  

Southeastern Wyoming had its first Winter Storm and High Wind event of the season. High winds of 40 to 50 mph (64 to 80 km/h) coupled with snowfall led to the first Blizzard warnings being issued this season for counties in southeastern Wyoming. Highway closures, due to the blizzard, resulted in major travel issues. Travel alerts did not appear on some phones, so motorists were not aware of the closures and were stranded in towns along the interstate. Some motorists had to sleep in their cars as limited hotels in small towns were full and they could not get to other areas with the road closures. While this storm created major travel headaches, it did bring much-needed relief to neighboring wildfires, as well as the hot temperatures from summer, while also helping to improve air quality in the region. The Colorado Rockies also received their first notable snowfall of the season. Multiple snow storms impacted the region in October bringing over a foot of snow in different areas. Winter Storm Warnings were issued for the higher elevations and stretched north to south across the entire range in Colorado. After a storm that brought 14 inches (356 mm) of snow to the southwest part of the state, Wolf Creek ski area near Pagosa Springs became the first in Colorado to open for the season. This was quickly followed by multiple other resorts releasing their opening dates bringing an early start to the ski season.  

After a summer filled with extreme heat and drought, many areas welcomed the relief of colder temperatures and snow. While drought is still present in the High Plains, this above-normal precipitation and snow did help to provide minor improvement across Wyoming, The Dakotas, and areas in Colorado.  

Above: Departure from 1991-2020 normal temperature (left) and percent of normal precipitation (right) for October 2021 in the High Plains region.
Maps produced by the High Plains Regional Climate Center and are available at: http://hprcc.unl.edu/maps/current

Precipitation

Precipitation for October varied across the region. Above-normal precipitation was observed across Wyoming and stretched into the Dakotas. The largest departures from normal occurred in the Dakotas, eastern Nebraska, and eastern Kansas with totals as much as 4.5 inches (114 mm) above normal.  This large area of above-normal precipitation led to many locations ranking in the top 10 wettest on record for October, many were in the Dakotas (see page 6 for monthly rankings). Huron, SD observed 5.22 inches (133 mm) for the month which ranked as the 3rd wettest October on record, with the record of 6.44 inches (164 mm) being set in 1946. This was 268 percent above the normal precipitation for October. The wetness during the month of October brought both snowstorms and tornadoes to South Dakota. To the west, in Rapid City, blowing snow due to high winds created low visibility, which resulted in highway closures for the duration of the storm. As the storm progressed, several tornadoes were reported in the northeastern corner of the state.  

Areas in Wyoming also observed above-normal precipitation for October. Casper, WY recorded 2.69 inches (68 mm) of precipitation which ranked as the 4th wettest October on record, the record being 4.62 inches (117 mm) set in 1998. This precipitation was 226 percent above normal for Casper. Lander, WY, which observed 255 percent of its normal precipitation for October, reported their 9th wettest October on record with 3.57 inches (91 mm) of precipitation. 

Despite the wetness in the northern and eastern parts of the High Plains, dryness was present in a large portion of the region. Eastern Colorado and the western parts of Kansas and Nebraska experienced below-normal precipitation for the month, with large swathes of 50 percent or below-normal precipitation. Denver, CO recorded the 8th driest October, with only 0.08 inches (2 mm) of precipitation. The dryness within this area has impacted agriculture. According to the USDA’s Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin, pasture and rangelands that were rated as poor to very poor conditions were covering above 25 percent of the area for Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska. Corn harvest was also ahead of the 5-year average for all states in the High Plains.    

Above: Total precipitation in inches (left) and departure from normal
precipitation in inches (right) for October 2021. These maps are
produced by HPRCC and can be found on the Current Climate Summary Maps page at: http://hprcc.unl.edu/maps/current

Streamflow Update

Above-normal precipitation during the month of October led to improvements in streamflow across parts of the region. Over large parts of North Dakota and Wyoming, streamflow returned to normal or above normal state. Colorado also observed improvements in conditions, however, pockets of much below normal streamflow are still present. The Southeastern portion of the Missouri River Basin continued to remain above normal for October with some streamflow observations much above normal. In contrast, streamflow in the tri-state corner of Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas remained much below normal after another dry month for this region, with several gauges observing record low flows.  

Temperatures

Temperatures for October remained above normal for most of the High Plains. The temperature departure gradient stretched northeast with the southwestern portion of the region observing temperatures below-normal and the northeastern portion observing the greatest departure of above-normal temperatures. The Rockies, in western Colorado, observed temperatures 2 to 4 degrees F (1.1 to 2.2 degrees C) below normal, while the Dakotas observed the highest departure from normal with temperatures 4 to 8 degrees F (2.2 to 4.5 degrees C) above normal.  

As a result of these above-normal temperatures in the Dakotas, a few locations ranked in the top 10 warmest October on record (see page 6 for October rankings). Dickinson, ND observed its 5th warmest October on record with an average temperature of 49.1 degrees F (9.5 degrees C). Grand Forks, ND tied a record set in 1900 with its 10th warmest October on record with an average temperature of 49.4 degrees F (9.7 degrees C). While October 2021 only ranked as the 10th warmest for Grand Forks, this was a departure of 6.2 degrees F (3.5 degrees C) above normal. Above normal temperatures in North Dakota provided challenges to some deer hunters. Lower temperatures are ideal for deer hunting because it increases deer activity as they look for more food to store energy and keep their bodies warm. Without these cooler temperatures, the deer are remaining in the brush longer and are less likely to come out during the middle of the day making it harder for deer hunters in the region.  

Below normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation in the Rockies, contributed to the season’s first significant snowfall. Multiple storms provided a fresh layer of snow to the mountain range. Ski resorts in Colorado are opening, which is welcomed as it will help boost the local economy and provide jobs after a hard season in 2020.  

Above: Daily temperatures for October 2021 along with extremes and normal values in Dickinson, ND

Drought Conditions

Beneficial precipitation across drought-stricken areas of the High Plains led to improvements in drought and abnormally dry (D0-D4) conditions. The most notable improvements included a reduction of 12 percent in extreme and exceptional (D3-D4) conditions. Despite the improvements this month, 83 percent of the region is still experiencing D0-D4 conditions.  

Conditions improved significantly in North Dakota after much of the state experienced above-normal precipitation during October. D3-D4 conditions were reduced 50 percent during the month, with only 9 percent of the state currently under the most severe drought conditions. In South Dakota, similar improvements occurred. D3-D4 categories were removed for the state while severe to exceptional (D2-D4) drought was reduced by 27 percent. Wyoming also experienced a 16 percent decrease to D3-D4 conditions. Despite the improvements this month, Colorado saw an increase of 21 percent to drought conditions (D1-D4). Throughout the rest of the region, other minor improvements were observed. According to the U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook for November, drought development is likely in southern Colorado and western Kansas.  

The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced as a joint effort of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Drought Mitigation
Center, U.S. Department of Commerce, and the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). For current Drought Monitor
information, please see: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

Climate Outlooks

According to the Climate Prediction Center, La Niña conditions have developed during the month of October. A La Niña Advisory has been issued and La Niña conditions are expected to continue throughout the winter season. For more information, visit https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf 

The National Weather Service’s long-range flood outlook through January indicates a continual decrease in the chance of minor flooding. There is a greater than 50 percent chance of minor flooding in the lower Missouri River Basin in November and that will continue to decrease through January where it becomes a less than 20 percent chance. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), significant wildland fire potential has returned to normal for the High Plains and is expected to continue to remain normal through January.  

The seasonal temperature and precipitation outlooks below combine the effects of long-term trends, soil moisture, and when applicable, the El Niño Southern Oscillation cycle (ENSO). To learn more about these outlooks, please visit http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov

Temperature

The three-month temperature outlook shows an increased chance for above-normal temperatures for most of the contiguous United States. The highest chances for above-normal temperatures can be observed in the Southwestern portion of the country. In the Southern High Plains, there is an increased chance of above-normal temperatures during the next three months, whereas in the majority of the Northern High Plains there are equal chances of above-, below-, and near-normal temperatures.  

Precipitation

The precipitation outlook for the next three months indicates below-normal precipitation across the southern half of the United States, whereas above-normal precipitation can be observed throughout the Northwest and Northeast. In most of the High Plains region, there are equal chances of above-, below-, and near-normal precipitation. A portion of Northwestern Wyoming has a slightly increased chance of above-normal precipitation, while a small area of southern Kansas and Colorado has a slightly increased chance of below-normal precipitation. 

Drought

The U.S Seasonal Drought Outlook released on October 21st indicates drought conditions are expected to persist across the Western U.S and High Plans over the next three months. Drought conditions are expected to show minor improvements in the Northwest, with some areas likely to observe drought removal. It is also likely that in portions of Colorado, Florida, the Carolinas, and the Southern Plains, drought conditions will develop. 

Above: The three-month temperature probability outlook (top), the
three-month precipitation probability outlook (middle), and the U.S.
Seasonal Drought Outlook (bottom). For more information on these
outlooks, produced by the Climate Prediction Center, see:
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov

Station Summaries: By the Numbers

Download PDF version below.

October 2021 Top 10 Monthly Rankings

Temperature in degrees Fahrenheit, Precipitation in inches

Warmest Temperature/ RankingRecord/YearPeriod of Record 
Dickinson, ND49.1 / 5th warmest56.7 / 19631938-2021
Bismarck, ND50.7 / 9th warmest 54.9 / 19631874-2021
Grand Forks, ND49.4 / 10th warmest (tied, 1900)57.1 / 1998 1893-2021
Precipitation Precipitation / Ranking Record / Year Period of Record 
Huron, SD5.22 / 3rd wettest6.44 / 19461888-2021
Casper, WY2.69 / 4th wettest 4.62 / 1998 1939-2021
Rapid City, SD2.76 / 5th wettest5.60 / 19981942-2021
Aberdeen, SD4.39 / 6th wettest7.29 / 19981893-2021
Sisseton, SD4.97 / 6th wettest 7.01 / 20091931-2021
Dickinson, ND2.91 / 6th wettest5.77 / 19821938-2021
Chadron, NE1.91 / 6th wettest3.57 / 20131941-2021
Bismarck, ND3.35 / 7th wettest 4.73 / 20131874-2021
Mobridge, SD3.43 / 8th wettest5.69 / 20131911-2021
Grand Forks, ND3.48 / 8th wettest (tied, 2019)5.79 / 19981893-2021
Lander, WY3.57 / 9th wettest4.90 / 19941981-2021
Denver, CO0.08 / 8th driest (tied, 2003+)Trace / 19341874-2021

All data are preliminary and subject to change. + indicates multiple dates, latest date listed. * indicates some missing data for the period.
Data are retrieved through the Applied Climate Information System (ACIS) and are available online through the CLIMOD system.
For more information please contact us: http://www.hprcc.unl.edu/contact.php

Tool Spotlight – Station Tool

The Station Tool allows users to find stations in a given area, view information about the station, and go directly to HPRCC tools to explore data for the station. Explore the Station Tool in this Tool Spotlight!

Few tools in HPRCC’s product inventory have the breadth that the Station Tool does. When you are unsure of which weather station is appropriate for your use case, or are unfamiliar with an area, Station Tool steps in to help you locate a station and direct you to other tools in our inventory.

The Station Search form within Station Tool

On the surface, the Station Search form looks self-explanatory, but there are actually some advanced capabilities hidden in the search box! Here are the different search methods you can try!

  • City Name
  • County Name
  • State Name/Abbreviation
  • Station ID

Larger areas will take more time, since the Station Tool is requesting information from ACIS about all of the stations in an area!

After performing a search, you will have a list of stations in the left pane, and a map of station locations on the right. You can select a station in either pane to reveal information about a station.

The results after searching for a station in Station Tool

Inside of the station dialog is information about the selected station, along with links to the Station Data Explorer and Station Report Tool. The unique Annual Overview Graphs are also available from this dialog.

Annual Overview Graph for Charlotte Douglas Airport