April 2022 Climate Summary

April 2022 Climate Summary

Kansas Winter Wheat Field, Photo Courtesy of Gannon Rush

Drought in the Southern Plains and Blizzards in the North

April was the ‘tale of two cities’ in the High Plains. Grand Forks, North Dakota was among the wettest and coldest on record, while Colorado Springs, Colorado was among the warmest and driest on record. The northern states experienced well below normal temperatures and multiple blizzards, while the southern states remained dry and dealt with wildfires.


Several blizzards tracked through North Dakota during the month, including the historic blizzard from April 12th to 14th. The heavy snowfall combined with gusts up to 60 mph (96.56 km/h) led to drifts up to 8 feet tall. Among the highest snowfall amounts was a report of 36.0 inches (91.44 cm) outside of Minot. The highest verified amount was 29.5 inches (74.93 cm) outside Dunn Center. With such high winds, it is hard to accurately measure snowfall. Another blizzard struck the same areas late in the month, with snowfall up to 18.0 inches (45.72 cm).


Wildfires were an issue in the southern portion of the region, particularly in Nebraska. Two large fires broke out during the month, which led to two deaths and several towns to be evacuated. The first fire broke out near Arapahoe, with nearly 35,000 acres burned over several days. Later in the month, another fire broke out nearby which burned over 44,000 acres. Several other fires occurred in Colorado during the month, particularly in areas that were extremely dry this month.


Another interesting impact of the ongoing drought was the reduction of hunting permits available for pronghorn and mule deer in Wyoming. Due to the dryness, food sources of these animals are impacted. As a result, permits were reduced to conserve populations this year. Animal populations were already low from the previous year, with the mule deer population only 61 percent of the statewide goal.

Above: Departure from 1991-2020 normal temperature and percent of normal precipitation for April 2022 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 the High Plains in March was sharply divided. The northern part of the region was above to well above-normal, while the southern parts were below-normal. Several locations in North Dakota were among the wettest on record, in contrast to multiple places in the southern portions ranking among the driest. The above-normal precipitation in North Dakota helped improve drought conditions, while the dryness in the south only exacerbated drought conditions.

Several blizzards in North Dakota led both Fargo and Grand Forks to rank as their second wettest April on record. Both locations observed over 5 inches (12.70 cm) of precipitation for the month. Bismarck recorded their snowiest April on record with 21.9 inches (55.63 cm) of snow falling while also ranking 10th wettest. Along the front range of the Rockies, conditions were dry. In Colorado, Akron and Colorado Springs both observed their driest month on record with minimal precipitation falling. Several locations with eastern Wyoming, western Kansas, and western Nebraska also ranked among the driest Aprils on record.


It was an active month for severe weather across the region, with multiple days of severe weather. Most notably on the 29th, several storms impacted Kansas and Nebraska. Both Kansas and Nebraska reported 4-inch (10.16 cm) hailstones, while an impressive 91 mph (146.45 km/h) wind gust was recorded outside Davenport, Nebraska. On the same day, a high end EF-3 tornado tracked through Andover, Kansas causing significant damage and leading to 3 injuries.

Above: Total precipitation in inches (top) and departure from normal
precipitation in inches (bottom) for April 2022. These maps are produced by HPRCC and can be found on the Current Climate Summary
Maps page at: http://hprcc.unl.edu/maps/current.

Snowpack Update

Snowpack at the end of April was above normal for the Upper Missouri River Basin mountains. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as of April 24, Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) above Fort Peck Reservoir is currently at 14.2 inches (36.07 cm) which is 92% of the average (1981-2010). The reach between Fort Peck and Garrison Reservoirs is currently 13.3 inches (33.78 cm) which is 95% of the average (1981-2010). SWE was near or above median in most Wyoming basins. In Colorado, SWE was well below normal in the southwestern basins.

Temperatures

Cooler temperatures were present throughout much of the region this month, with well below normal temperatures in the northern states. Multiple locations in the north ranked among the coldest months on record.


In addition to the heavy snowfall across North Dakota, temperatures were also well below normal for the state. Grand Forks ranked 2nd coldest month on record, with an average temperature of 31.8 degrees F (-0.1 degrees C) which is below freezing. Dickinson, North Dakota, and Sisseton, South Dakota also both recorded their 3rd coldest April on record. A number of locations in North Dakota, South Dakota, and
Wyoming observed a top 10 coldest months on record.


Opposite of the cooler temperatures to the north, the southern part of the region experienced above-normal temperatures. Temperatures skyrocketed on the 22nd and 23rd, with areas in Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska exceeding 90 degrees F (32.2 degrees C). The highest
temperature of 101 degrees F (38.3 degrees C) was recorded southwest of North Platte, Nebraska on April 23rd. High winds were once again present during these two days, which led to fire issues. The Strom Prediction Center issued several extremely critical fire days during the month during these hot and windy periods

Above: Daily temperatures for April 2022, along with extremes and
normals values in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Drought Conditions

Dryness continues in the southern parts of the region, while the northern parts received normal to above-normal precipitation. Drought conditions improved significantly in North Dakota and parts of South Dakota after the recent snowstorms, while Kansas and Nebraska remained dry.


The dryness across the western parts of both Nebraska and Kansas led to widespread expansion of extreme drought (D3). Nearly 20 percent of both states are in D3 at the end of April. Some precipitation fell in the drought-stricken areas towards the end of the month, which should improve conditions. Severe drought (D2) also greatly expanded across eastern Colorado towards the end of the month, with many areas receiving well below 25 percent of their normal precipitation. Contrary to the dryness, the northern parts of the region have observed above-normal precipitation. Drought conditions improved one to two classes across the western Dakotas and northern Wyoming. Elsewhere in the region, other improvements and degradation were
observed. According to the Climate Prediction Center’s U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook for May, improvements in drought conditions are likely across South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and northeastern 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 are likely to continue into the summer. A La Niña advisory is currently 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 July indicates a high chance of minor flooding across eastern South Dakota and the lower basin in May. This will decrease over the next three months. There is a high risk of Major Flooding in northeastern South Dakota and central North Dakota. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), fire potential will be limited
in May and June but expand across the entire region by July.


The seasonal temperature and precipitation outlooks presented 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 across the majority of the United States. In the High Plains, North Dakota and northeastern South Dakota have equal chances of above-, below-, and near-normal temperatures. Meanwhile, the rest of the region has increased chances of above-normal temperatures with Colorado heavily favored.

Precipitation

The outlook for the next three months indicates below-normal precipitation across the majority of the western United States. Across the High Plains there are equal chances of above-, below-, and near-normal precipitation in North Dakota and northern South Dakota. The rest of the region has increased chances of below-normal precipitation.

Drought

The U.S Seasonal Drought Outlook released on April 30th indicates drought conditions are expected to remain but conditions improve across the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas. Conditions are expected
to persist across Colorado and Wyoming with development likely in the central parts of the states.

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 Number

Download PDF below

April Top 10 Monthly Rankings

WarmestTemperature / RankingRecord / YearPeriod of Record
Colorado Springs, CO 51.6 / 8th warmest 53.8 / 19811894 – 2022
Coldest Temperature / RankingRecord / YearPeriod of Record
Grand Forks, ND 31.8 / 2nd coldest 29.7 / 1950 1893 – 2022
Sisseton, SD 38.6 / 3rd coldest36.1 / 20181931 – 2022
Dickinson, ND33.7 / 3rd coldest 32.0 / 1950 1938 – 2022
Casper, WY37.6 / 5th coldest34.9 / 1997+1939 – 2022
Fargo, ND 34.9 / 8th coldest (tied with 1956)33.0 / 18931881 – 2022
Rapid City, SD39.7 / 9th coldest 36.7 / 20131942 – 2022
Pierre, SD42.4 / 10th coldest 37.6 / 20131893 – 2022
Precipitation Precipitation / RankingRecord / YearPeriod of Record
Akron, CO0.03 / DRIEST0.27 / 20221937 – 2022 
Colorado Springs, CO 0.01 / DRIEST (tied with 1964)1894 – 2019
Goodland, KS0.04 / 3rd driest T / 1963 1895 – 2022
Cheyenne, WY 0.20 / 3rd driest 0.17 / 1880 1871 – 2022
Denver, CO 0.06 / 3rd driest 0.03 / 19631872 – 2022
McCook, NE0.15 / 4th driestT / 19241894 – 2022
Laramie, WY 0.28 / 5th driest 0.20 / 1966 1948 – 2022
Salina, NE0.64 / 6th driest 0.21 / 1937 1948 – 2022
Scottsbluff, NE 0.42 / 10th driest0.19 / 19281893 – 2022
Grand Forks, ND 5.47 / 2nd wettest 5.59 / 18861893 – 2022
Fargo, ND 5.45 / 2nd wettest5.49 / 1886 1881 – 2022
Bismarck, ND3.53 / 10th wettest 5.71 / 18781874 – 2022
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

March 2022 Climate Summary

March 2022 Climate Summary

Foothills of Colorado, Photo Courtesy of Gannon Rush

Dryness Continued into March

The dryness that has gripped parts of the region over the winter continued into March. This led to the intensification and growth of drought across South Dakota, Nebraska, and western Kansas. All three states ended the month with 45 percent of the state in severe drought (D2). In preparation for the continuation of the drought, cattle herds are being culled in Nebraska. Feedlots in the state are now near-record numbers, which is unusual for this time of the year. 

Repercussions from the drought of 2021 are becoming noticeable in North Dakota. Many cattle producers within the state rely on water from surface water sources such as stock ponds. These water sources were dried up or contained substances toxic to livestock during the drought of previous years. As a result of the lack of snowpack this winter for recharge or the dilution of toxic substances, there are concerns about the availability of water this year. Ranchers within the state have been encouraged to find other sources of water to reduce the potential for issues this year.  

Another side effect of the dryness across the region is the increased risk of wildfires. Optimal conditions for wildfires across western Kansas throughout the month led the governor to declare a state of disaster. Several large fires broke out in the southern part of the state, with the largest reported to the northwest of Wichita. Fires were also reported in Colorado, Nebraska, and South Dakota in the month of March.   

Opposite of the dryness, eastern North Dakota has been extremely wet. There are concerns about flooding along the Red River after numerous snowstorms this winter. Flooding in this region would lead to delays in planting, which could impact wheat output this year. 

Above: Departure from 1991-2020 normal temperature (left) and percent of normal precipitation (right) for March 2022 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 was well below normal again in Nebraska and the Dakotas in March. Pockets of above-normal precipitation were present in eastern Colorado, eastern Kansas, southeastern Nebraska, and parts of Wyoming. The precipitation observed at these locations helped alleviate drought conditions, but deficits remain.  

Despite large portions of the region observing below normal precipitation, only two locations ranked in the top 10 driest. Williston, North Dakota recorded 0.06 inches (1.5 mm) of precipitation to rank 5th driest, while Rapid City, South Dakota observed 0.25 inches (6.35 mm) which ranked 8th driest. Several locations have also started the year among the driest on record. In Nebraska, Valentine and Norfolk were the 2nd driest on record since January 1st. Williston and Rapid City also ranked in the top 10 driest since January 1st. 

Above normal precipitation this month alleviated drought conditions. Several storms moved across eastern Kansas, which helped remove abnormally dry and improved drought conditions. Precipitation towards the end of the month slightly eased drought conditions in eastern Colorado, however, long-term dryness continues to impact the area. After a very wet March, Casper, Wyoming observed its 3rd wettest start to the year, with 3.29 inches (8.36 cm) of precipitation falling.  

The region also experienced its first severe weather of the season. On the 29th, a storm progressed across eastern Kansas with 1 inch (2.54 cm) hail and 60 miles per hour (96.56 km/h) wind gusts. An EF-1 tornado was observed in Jefferson County, with minor damage reported.   

Above: Total precipitation in inches (top) and departure from normal
precipitation in inches (bottom) for March 2022. These maps are produced by HPRCC and can be found on the Current Climate Summary
Maps page at: http://hprcc.unl.edu/maps/current.

Snowpack Update

Snowpack for the end of winter remained just below normal for the Upper Missouri River Basin mountains. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as of March 27, Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) above Fort Peck Reservoir is currently at 12.2 inches (30.99 cm) which is 79% of the average (1981-2010). The reach between Fort Peck and Garrison Reservoirs is currently 10.4 inches (26.42 cm) which is 76% of the average (1981-2010).  In the Plains, areas with snow on the ground at the end of January were observed in southern North Dakota and northeastern South Dakota. Meanwhile, warm and dry conditions resulted in snow-free areas across the remainder of the plains. 

Temperatures

Temperatures were near normal for the month of March. Isolated pockets of 8 degrees F (4.4 C) below normal were observed in north-central Colorado. Meanwhile, pockets of above normal temperatures were recorded in northeastern Wyoming, northeastern South Dakota, and southwestern North Dakota.  

Despite temperatures being near normal throughout the region, temperatures fluctuated during the month. Temperatures were well above normal on the 21st, reaching 80 degrees F (26.7 C) in the southern High Plains. The highest temperature was recorded in northwestern Kansas, with an observation of 93 degrees F (33.9 C) near Wallace. Opposite of these warm temperatures, much below normal temperatures were recorded from March 10th to 11th. Low temperatures of -25 degrees F (-31.7 C) were observed in the higher elevations of Colorado, South Dakota, and Wyoming. A brisk temperature of -40 degrees F (-40 C) was reported near Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.  

The much above normal temperatures have also coincided with high winds during the month. Red flag warnings were issued on many days in March in all states except North Dakota. Conditions were ripe for fires to break out on the 29th, which led the Storm Prediction Center to issue a rare extremely critical fire day. 

Above: Daily temperatures for March 2022, along with extremes and
normals values in Dodge City, Kansas.

Drought Conditions

Persistent dryness that has plagued parts of the region continued into March. Conditions rapidly deteriorated across the western parts of Nebraska and South Dakota, while drought intensified in western Kansas.  

Exceptional Drought (D4) was reintroduced to the region for the first time since November of 2021. Long-term dryness led to the expansion of D4 into southwestern Kansas and the slight expansion over the course of the month. Another dry month in Nebraska led to a 20 percent increase to severe drought (D2) and the introduction of extreme drought (D3) in the north-central part of the state. Drought conditions also intensified in South Dakota, with 46 percent of the state now experiencing D2. Despite the dryness plaguing the region, some areas received above normal precipitation which led to improvements. Beneficial precipitation in eastern Colorado eased conditions and led to a 24 percent reduction of D2 area coverage for the state. In eastern Kansas, abnormally dry conditions were significantly reduced. Throughout the rest of the region, other improvements and degradations were observed. According to the Climate Prediction Center’s U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook for April, drought development is likely in south-central Nebraska. 

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 are likely to continue into the summer. A La Niña advisory is currently 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 June indicates a high chance of minor flooding across eastern South Dakota and the lower basin. This will decrease over the next three months with chances dropping to below 40% by June. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), Kansas, Nebraska, and eastern Colorado have above-normal wildland fire potential throughout April. 

The seasonal temperature and precipitation presented below outlook 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 majority of the United States. The highest chances of below-normal temperatures can be observed in the Northwestern United States. In the High Plains, North Dakota and northwestern South Dakota have equal chances of above-, below-, and near-normal temperatures. Meanwhile, the rest of the region has increased chances of above-normal temperatures.  

Precipitation

The outlook for the next three months indicates below-normal precipitation across the majority of the western United States. In the Midwest there are increased chances of above-normal precipitation. Across the High Plains there are equal chances of above-, below-, and near-normal precipitation in North Dakota and northeastern South Dakota. The rest of the region has increased chances of below-normal precipitation. 

Drought

The U.S Seasonal Drought Outlook released on March 31st indicates drought conditions are expected to persist across the Southwest and High Plains over the next three months. Drought conditions are expected to remain and development is likely in eastern Kansas and south-central Nebraska. 

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

March Top 10 Monthly Rankings

Precipitation Precipitation / RankingRecord / YearPeriod of Record
Williston, ND0.06 / 5th Driest (tied with 2009+)0.01 / (2019+)1894 – 2022
Rapid City, SD0.25 / 8th Driest (tied with 1949)0.05 / 20121942 – 2022
SnowfallSnowfall / RankingRecord / YearPeriod of Record
Norfolk, NE 0.2 / 9th Lowest Snowfall (tied with 2015+)T / 20121893 – 2022
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 Quarterly Climate Impacts and Outlooks

Regional- Significant Events for December 2021- February 2022

Highlights for the Basin

It was a very dry winter throughout most of the Missouri River Basin, especially in the southern portions. The 8th driest February and 10th driest winter on record for the Basin. Nebraska and Kansas observed their 4th and 5th driest winter, respectively. February was very dry, with Wyoming recording their 4th driest and Nebraska recording their 2nd driest month on record. December was a very warm month in the Basin. Kansas and Nebraska observed their warmest December on record, while Colorado and Wyoming observed their 2nd and 9th, respectively. Drought coverage expanded greatly across much of the lower basin. Lincoln, Nebraska recorded its 2nd driest
and lowest snowfall this winter.

Regional- Climate Overview for December 2021- February 2022

Temperature and Precipitation Anomalies

Winter temperatures were above normal for the majority of the Missouri River Basin. December was warm across most of the Basin. Both Kansas and Nebraska observing their highest maximum temperatures on record. Temperatures were closer to normal throughout the rest of the winter.

Precipitation was mostly below normal in the mountains and plains. The exception was eastern North Dakota with well above normal precipitation and snowfall. Many counties in northern Kansas and Nebraska ranked among their driest winters on record. Mountain snowpack for the upper Missouri Basin is approximately 80-85% of normal. This precipitation pattern is consistent with historical La Niña conditions.

Departure from Normal Temperature (°F) (top)
and Percent of Normal Precipitation (bottom) for Winter 21-22

Changes in Drought Conditions

Drought continued through the winter, with conditions deteriorating up to 3 levels in Kansas and Nebraska. Over 98 percent of Nebraska and 73 percent of Kansas are in drought at the end of February. Despite the dryness in the southeastern part of the region, conditions improved slightly in Montana and eastern North Dakota. The worst category of drought was reduced over 29 percent in Montana.

Dec. 7, 2021 – Feb. 28, 2022

Regional- Impacts for December 2021- February 2022

Wildfires

Several destructive wildfires broke out in December. The most destructive fire in Colorado history broke out on December 30th in Marshall. Aided by gusts of up 100 mph, over 1,000 homes were destroyed causing over $1 billion dollars in damage. In addition, High winds on December 15th led to multiple wildfires in north-central Kansas that burned over 160,000 acres. Two people and hundreds of cattle perished.

Wildfire in Clark County, KS, credit Kansas Forest Service

Recreation

Snow drought conditions and fluctuating temperatures this winter
led to decreased recreational activities in the lower elevations and plains. Snow making for skiing suffered in the Black Hills especially in December due to warm temperatures. A lack of stable lake ice, from varying temperatures, led to more limited ice fishing.

Dust storm in MT, credit Sean R Harvey

Water Resources

Low precipitation throughout most of the basin impacted water resources. Drought has lowered the Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir System and led to drought conservation measures to be implemented. This will impact navigation in 2022. Also, stock ponds for cattle have not recovered due to limited precipitation and runoff. Recharging these ponds will be difficult without substantial rain events this spring.

Dried up pond in KS, credit Mike McCarty

Regional- Outlook for April- June 2022

he outlook for April through June indicates increased chances of above normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation for the southern and central portions of the region. Equal chances of above, below, and near normal temperatures and precipitation are favored across North Dakota and eastern Montana. The only area with increased chances of below-normal temperatures is in northwest Montana. Based on outlooks, drought conditions are likely to persist for much of the basin, especially in areas where below-normal precipitation and warmer than average temperatures are more likely. Currently, La Niña influences will continue through the summer.

Temperature

EC: Equal chances of above, near, or below normal
A: Above normal, B: Below normal

Precipitation

EC: Equal chances of above, near, or below normal
A: Above normal, B: Below normal

MO River Basin Partners

High Plains Regional Climate Center
www.hprcc.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 Natural Resources Conservation Service
www.nrcs.usda.gov
USDA Northern Plains Climate Hub
www.climatehubs.oce.usda.gov
Bureau of Indian Affairs – Great Plains Region
www.bia.gov/regional-offices/great-plains

National Drought Mitigation Center
http://drought.unl.edu/

Download PDF below

February 2022 Climate Summary

February 2022 Climate Summary

Western Kansas Pastures, Photo Courtesy of Gannon Rush

Drought Continued to Expand Across the Region

February was a very dry month for most of the High Plains, which led to the expansion of drought across the region. Currently, 78 percent of the region is now engulfed in drought conditions. Kansas and Nebraska have been significantly impacted by the extreme dryness that was present not only in February, but throughout the winter. Agricultural producers and resource managers are being forced to make decisions based on the current situation to prepare for potential issues in the coming months.


Despite below normal temperatures throughout most of the region, temperatures fluctuated greatly throughout the month. This swing from above normal to below normal temperatures has created issues for many different sectors, particularly recreation. Ice fishing is down in areas due to lakes not having proper time to freeze over, while ski resorts had issues with creating snow.

In eastern North Dakota, cold temperatures and an above-normal number of blizzards have occurred recently. Since the beginning of 2022, 10 blizzard warnings have been issued by the National Weather Service office in Grand Forks. This has already tied the full-year record, which was set in 2014. As a result, snow has continued to accumulate, which has created the potential to create challenges during the upcoming planting season and has an increased risk of flooding this spring. Many areas along the Red River near Fargo and Grand Forks have a 50% or greater chance of exceeding flood levels this spring as a result of the accumulating snow.

Above: Departure from 1991-2020 normal temperature (left) and percent of normal precipitation (right) for February 2022 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

The dryness continued to grip the southeastern part of the High Plains in February. Kansas and Nebraska were among the driest for not only the month but for the entire winter season. In contrast, eastern North Dakota and central Colorado recorded above-normal precipitation for the month and season.


Several locations within Nebraska and northern Kansas observed their driest February on record. McCook, Nebraska, observed their 2nd driest month on record, with only trace amounts of precipitation recorded. To the north, North Platte observed 0.03 inches (0.76 mm) of precipitation, leading to their 4th driest February. Grand Island tied with 1904 for the record driest, with only 0.01 inches (0.25 mm) of precipitation observed. Hastings and Lincoln both recorded their 3rd driest February on record with 0.01 and 0.03 inches (0.25 and 0.76 mm), respectively, of precipitation.

This dryness was not only prevalent during the month, but also throughout the winter in Nebraska. Lincoln and Hastings both observed their 2nd driest winters on record, while Norfolk and Grand Island observed their 3rd driest winters. Other locations that were extremely dry included Concordia, Kansas, and Pierre, South Dakota, which recorded their 3rd and 4th driest winters, respectively.

In contrast to this dryness, several locations recorded above-normal precipitation. Sisseton, South Dakota observed their 5th wettest and 6th most snowfall for the winter. Grand Forks, North Dakota was also unusually wet, recording their 4th most snowfall and 10th wettest winter on record. Snowfall was also above-normal in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Fargo, North Dakota, where the 7th and 10th
most winter snowfall, respectively, was observed.

Above: Total precipitation in inches (top) and departure from normal
precipitation in inches (bottom) for February 2022. These maps are
produced by HPRCC and can be found on the Current Climate Summary Maps page at: http://hprcc.unl.edu/maps/current.

Snowpack Update

Snowpack for the end of winter remained just below normal for the Upper Missouri River Basin mountains. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as of March 2, Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) above Fort Peck Reservoir is currently at 13.3 inches (33.78 cm) which is 82% of the average (1981-2010). The reach between Fort Peck and Garrison Reservoirs is currently 11.4 inches (28.96 cm) which are 80% of the average (1981-2010). In the Plains, areas with snow on the ground at the end of January were observed in North Dakota and a portion of South Dakota. Meanwhile, warm and dry conditions resulted in snow-free areas across the remainder of the plains.

Temperatures

Across the entirety of the region, temperature departures were below normal for February, aside from a few small areas. In northeastern North Dakota and the Rockies, temperatures were as much as 10 degrees F (5.6 C) below normal for February. Despite the below normal temperature departures in the High Plains, temperatures fluctuated throughout the month. In Topeka, KS, temperatures dropped from a high temperature of 70 degrees F (21.1 degrees C) on the 21st to 19 degrees F (-7.2 degrees C) on the 23rd, a decrease of 51 degrees F (28.3 C). These temperature fluctuations created many impacts in the region. For example, soil in the region was not able to freeze fully, which is a concern for farmers as the planting season approaches. Sandhill crane migrations for this year also started to arrive earlier than average from the south due to the unseasonably warm temperatures throughout the winter.


Despite the varying temperatures over the course of the 2021-2022 winter season, some areas ranked in the top 10 warmest winters on record. Lander, WY observed their 8th warmest winter on record, with a season average of 27.2 degrees F (-2.7 degrees C), while the record is 30.9 degrees F (-0.6 degrees C) in 1993-1934. In Colorado Springs, CO, the season-average temperature was 34.4 degrees F (1.3 degrees C) tying with the 1975-1976 season for the 9th warmest winter on record, the record being 37.6 degrees F (3.1 degrees C) from 1933 to 1934.

Above: Daily temperatures for February 2022, along with extremes
and normals values in Fargo, North Dakota.

Drought Conditions

Dryness continued in Nebraska and Kansas, which led to widespread expansion of drought conditions. Meanwhile, drought conditions improved in North Dakota and northeastern Colorado. The region has remained free of exceptional drought (D4) conditions since November of 2021.


Drought significantly expanded across Nebraska as a result of extremely dry conditions. The state began the month with 38 percent in D1 (moderate drought) to D4 (exceptional drought), and ended with 91 percent of the state in D1 to D4. The lack of precipitation South Dakota and Kansas both observed increases of 22 and 10 percent, respectively, to D1 to D4 conditions. Contrary to this dryness, Colorado observed an 11 percent decrease to extreme drought (D3) conditions after the eastern part of the state received above normal precipitation. Drought conditions also improved after beneficial precipitation in central and northern North Dakota. Throughout the rest of the region, other improvements and degradations were observed. According to the Climate Prediction Center’s U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook for March, drought development is likely in northern Nebraska and western Colorado.

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 are likely to continue throughout the spring 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 May indicates an increased chance of minor flooding in eastern South Dakota and the lower basin. The chance of flooding throughout that portion of the region, for March, remain above 20% with some areas greater than 80%. This will decrease over the next 3 months with the chance of minor flooding less than 20% in May. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), in the High Plains, western Kansas and Eastern Colorado have above-normal wildland fire potential and is expected to remain at this level through April.

The seasonal temperature and precipitation outlooks presented 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 across the eastern United States. The highest chances of below-normal temperatures can be observed in the
Northwestern United States. In the High Plains, North Dakota and the northern parts of Wyoming and South Dakota have equal chances of above-, below-, and near normal temperatures. Meanwhile, the rest of the region has increased chances of above-normal temperatures.

Precipitation

The outlook for the next three months indicates below-normal precipitation across the Southwest 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 in the Dakotas and the eastern parts of Kansas and Nebraska. The rest of the region has increased chances of below-normal precipitation.

Drought

he U.S Seasonal Drought Outlook released on February 28th 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 and development is likely in parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

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. ** indicates value is under evaluation.
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 Below

February 2022 Top 10 Monthly Ranking

Precipitation Precipitation / RankingRecord / YearPeriod of Record
Grand Island, NE0.01 / DRIEST (tied with 1904)1895-2022
McCook, NETrace / 2nd driest (tied with 2017+)0.00 / 19101894-2022
Lincoln, NE0.03 / 3rd driest 0.00 / 18971887-2022
Hastings, NE0.01 / 3rd driestTrace / 1921+1894-2022
North Platte, NE0.03 / 4th driest (tied with 1988+)0.01 / 2002+1874-2022
Chadron, NE0.02 / 5th driest (tied with 2019)Trace / 2002+1941-2022
Concordia, KS0.03 / 5th driest (tied 1977+)Trace / 19961885-2022
Norfolk, NE0.13 / 8th driest0.04 / 19491893-2022
Rawlins, WY0.12 / 9th driest (tied with 1981)Trace / 20181951-2022
Laramie, WY0.09 / 10th driest (tied with 2007+)0.02 / 19991948-2022

SnowfallSnowfall / RankingRecord / YearPeriod of Record
Lincoln, NE0.1 / 4th lowest snowfallTrace / 1996+1887-2022
Norfolk, NE0.2 / 5th lowest snowfall (tied with 1926)Trace / 1931+1893-2022
Hastings, NE0.5 / 7th lowest snowfallTrace / 1991+1895-2022
Omaha, NE0.5 / 8th lowest snowfall0.1 / 1996+1871-2022

2021-2022 Winter Season Rankings

WarmestTemperature / RankingRecord / YearPeriod of Record
Lander, WY27.2 / 8th warmest30.9 / 1933-19341891-2022
Colorado Springs, CO34.4 / 9th warmest (tied with 1975-1976)37.6 / 1933-19341894-2022

Precipitation Precipitation / RankingRecord / YearPeriod of Record
Lincoln, NE0.56 / 2nd driest 0.29 / 1922-19231887-2022
Hastings, NE0.39 / 2nd driest0.20 / 1903-19041894-2022
Norfolk, NE0.67 / 3rd driest0.47 / 1900-19011893-2022
Concordia, KS0.49 / 3rd driest0.39 / 1922-19231885-2022
Grand Island, NE0.51 / 3rd driest0.14 / 1908-19091895-2022
Chadron, NE0.15 / 4th driestTrace / 2000-20011941-2022
Pierre, SD0.32 / 4th driest (tied with 2001-2002)0.16 / 1982-19831893-2022
Salina, KS0.62 / 7th driest0.29 / 1903-19041948-2022
Huron, SD0.63 / 8th driest (tied with 1905-1906)0.32 / 1930-19311881-2022
Topeka, KS1.43 / 9th driest0.37 / 1922-19231887-2022
Sisseton, SD3.48 / 5th wettest 5.32 / 1951-19521931-2022
Grand Forks, ND2.86 / 10th wettest3.78 / 1988-19891893-2022

SnowfallSnowfall / RankingRecord / YearPeriod of Record
Lincoln, NE3.8 / 2nd lowest snowfall3.1 / 1953-19541948-2022
Norfolk, NE3.9 / 4th lowest snowfallTrace / 1895-18961893-2022
Grand Island, NE5.4 / 5th lowest snowfall1.3 / 1903-19041895-2022
Hastings, NE4.6 / 7th lowest snowfall 2.3 / 1903-19041894-2022
Huron, SD6.4 / 8th lowest snowfall2.8 / 1930-19311888-2022
Grand Forks, ND46.5 / 4th most snowfall57.7 / 1996-19971893-2022
Sisseton, SD44.0 / 6th most snowfall71.5 / 2010-20111931-2022
Cheyenne, WY33.4 / 7th most snowfall61.8 / 1979-19801883-2022
Fargo, ND42.9 / 10th most snowfall57.0 / 1996-19971885-2022
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

January 2022 Climate Summary

January 2022 Climate Summary

Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Photo Courtesy of Gavin Rush

Cold Start to the New Year

2022 began on a very cold note for the High Plains. A brutal cold front pushed through the region on the first few days of the month, with many stations recording their coldest day during the period. Temperatures plummeted below zero throughout the region, with North Dakota observing the bitterest of temperatures. Grand Forks observed a temperature of -37 degrees F (-38 degrees C) on the first, while many other stations in North Dakota experienced temperatures of -30 degrees F (-34 degrees C) or below. These frigid temperatures would linger throughout the month, with some stations having average temperatures below zero for the month.

In contrast to these cold temperatures, the middle of the month was unseasonably warm in the southern High Plains. Multiple states observed daily temperature records broken, with departures of up to 30 degrees F (17 degrees C) above normal for this time of the year. The highest temperature recorded during this period was in southwest
Kansas at Montezuma. Temperatures reached 73 degrees F (23 degrees C) on the 19th, which broke the dailytemperatur e record. Castle Rock, Colorado observed a high temperature of 72 degrees F (22 degrees C) on the 8th and broke the record for warmest day in January on record for the station. The daily average temperature on the 8th was 54 degrees (12.2 degrees C), which surpassed the previous record of 53.5 degrees F (11.9 degrees C).

Late in the month, a heavy snowstorm impacted eastern Colorado and western Kansas. A narrow swath of significant snowfall occurred on the 25th, with areas receiving 15 to 17 inches (38 cm to 43 cm). An isolated pocket along the Colorado and Kansas border received 20 or more inches (51 cm) of snow. The highest amounts were recorded near Mount Sunflower in Kansas, where 27 inches (69 cm) fell in 24 hours.

Above: Departure from 1991-2020 normal temperature (top) and percent of normal precipitation (bottom) for January 2022 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

The majority of the High Plains was dry for the month of January. Large portions of Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota observed well below normal precipitation. Several snowstorms across southeastern Wyoming, northwestern Kansas, western Nebraska, and eastern Colorado led to above normal precipitation for the area.

Two locations ranked among the driest for January, while several snowstorms led to locations ranking among the snowiest and wettest (see page 6 for December monthly rankings). Dryness was most prevalent across eastern Nebraska, where Norfolk experienced the driest January on record with 0.04 inches (1 mm) of precipitation. In western Colorado, Grand Junction observed the 10th driest month on record, with only 0.14 inches (3.56 mm) of precipitation. Contrary to this, multiple snowstorms led to the 9th wettest January on record for Casper, Wyoming, with 0.90 inches (22.86 mm) of precipitation.

The snowstorm on the 25th of the month helped several locations break snowfall records. In Sharon Springs, Kansas, 21 inches (53.34 cm) of snow fell, surpassing the one-day snowfall record for the station. The large snow amounts helped the station record its snowiest January, with 31 inches (78.74 cm) of snow. This easily passed the previous record of 15.2 inches (38.61 mm), set in 2001. Nearby Dodge City observed their 7th snowiest January on record, with 11.7 inches (29.72 cm) of snow falling. In eastern Colorado, Burlington recorded its snowiest January on record after receiving 19 inches (48.26 mm) during this same storm. Cheyenne, Wyoming also observed their 8th snowiest January on record, with 14.3 inches (36.32 mm) of snow falling during the month.

bove: Total precipitation in inches (top) and departure from normal
precipitation in inches (bottom) for January 2022. These maps are produced by HPRCC and can be found on the Current Climate Summary
Maps page at: http://hprcc.unl.edu/maps/current.

Snowpack Update

Snowpack for this winter season remains just below normal for the Upper Missouri River Basin mountains. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as of December 28th, Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) above Fort Peck Reservoir is currently at 9.1 inches (231.14 mm) which is 87% of the average (1981-2010). The reach between Fort Peck and Garrison Reservoirs is currently 7.7 inches (195.58 mm) which are 86% of the average (1981-2010). In the Plains, areas with snow on the ground at the end of January were observed in North Dakota and a portion of South Dakota. Meanwhile, warm and dry conditions resulted in snow-free areas across the remainder of the plains.

Temperatures

Temperatures for the region varied throughout the month, with 2022 starting cold then transitioning to warmer than normal in the middle of the month. As a result of the fluctuating temperatures, departures in the region remained near normal. Wyoming as well portions of the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Colorado observed temperatures up to 4 degrees F (7 degrees C) above normal while the remainder of the region observed temperatures up to 4 degrees F (7 degrees C) below normal. A small area in the Rockies did observe temperatures up to 8 degrees F (14 degrees C) below normal. Despite below normal snowfall in parts of Colorado, these cooler temperatures allowed ski resorts to maintain their base snow depths.


With temperatures near normal, no locations in our region ranked in the top 10 coldest or warmest January on record, however, some areas did see new daily records set throughout the month. With a cold start to the month, Grand Forks, North Dakota set a new record low for New Year’s Day with a temperature of –37 degrees F (previous record of –35 degrees F in 1885). As the middle of the month transitioned to unseasonably warm, Hastings, Nebraska set a new daily high of 66 degrees F (19 degrees C) on the 18th, surpassing the previous record of 65 degrees F (18 degrees C) set in 1951. Sioux Falls, South Dakota also
tied their record high on the 18th with a temperature of 52 degrees F (11 degrees C) (tie with 1944+).

Above: Daily temperatures for January 2022, along with extremes
and normals values in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Drought Conditions

Dryness across the eastern part of the region led to the spread of drought and abnormally dry conditions. Meanwhile, beneficial precipitation improved conditions in the tri-state area of Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming. The region has remained free of exceptional drought (D4) conditions since November of 2021.

Drought continued to expand across Kansas during January, with nearly 60 percent of the state now under moderate drought (D1) to D4 conditions. Western North and South Dakota both experienced an increase of severe drought (D2), with conditions rising 5 and 8 percent, respectively. In the U.S. Drought Monitor, extreme drought (D3) was removed from Nebraska and reduced in Colorado and Wyoming. D1 to D4 conditions were reduced 7 percent in Colorado after the western part of the state experienced much-needed precipitation. Despite the improvements in Colorado and Wyoming, both states remained in abnormally dry (D0) to D4 conditions. Throughout the rest of the region, other improvements and degradations were observed. According to the Climate Prediction Center’s U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook for January, drought improvement is likely in western Wyoming, while drought development is likely in eastern Kansas, central Nebraska, and southern South Dakota.

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 persist 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 April indicates an increased chance of minor flooding in the eastern portion of the Dakotas and the lower basin. Chances of flooding remain above 60% with some areas greater than 80%. This chance will decrease slightly as the year progresses but remain elevated in the eastern Dakotas. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), in the High Plains, the majority of Kansas and Eastern Colorado have above-normal wildland fire potential and is expected to remain through March. The seasonal temperature and precipitation outlooks presented 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 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 northern parts of the region have equal chances of above-, below-, and near-normal temperatures, while the southern parts have increased chances of above-normal temperatures.

Precipitation

The 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 Colorado and the western parts of Kansas and Nebraska which have increased chances of above-normal precipitation.

Drought

The U.S Seasonal Drought Outlook released on January 20th 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 Northeast, with some areas likely to observe drought removal. Drought development is likely in the southern United States and the central High Plains.

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

January 2022 Top 10 Monthly Ranking

Precipitation Precipitation/ RankingRecord/YearPeriod of Record 
Norfolk, NE0.04 / DRIEST 0.05 / 1928+1893-2021
Grand Junction, CO0.14 / 10th Driest (tied with 1900)Trace / 19611893-2021
    
Casper, WY0.90 / 9th Wettest1.42 / 19871939-2021
    
SnowfallSnowfall / Ranking Record / YearPeriod of Record
Dodge City, KS11.7 / 7th Snowiest 19.7 / 18981893-2021
Cheyenne, WY14.3 / 8th Snowiest35.5 / 19801883-2021
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