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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

September 2021 Climate Summary

September 2021 Climate Summary

Storm Clouds in SD, Photo courtesy Alex Resel

Much Needed Precipitation and Cooler Temperatures

Much needed precipitation in some portions of the region has helped to provide minor relief to drought conditions and restored streamflow. Precipitation in areas of South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas were as much as 150 percent above normal for the month. South Dakota, which began the month with 64.69 percent of the state in D3-D4 drought conditions, has observed some minor improvements and ended the month with 58.62 percent in D3-D4 drought conditions. Despite these minor improvements, the scope of the drought is so extreme that it will continue to take a notable amount of precipitation to see any relief in these regions. Precipitation also aided in streamflow conditions in the eastern portion of the region. Streamflow across the Dakotas and lower basin returned to normal and some even observed much above normal streamflow.

Cooler temperatures also aided in relief across portions of the region. Firefighters took advantage of the cooler temperatures in September and were able to expand containment of the Crater Ridge Fire in Wyoming from 35 to 52 percent. As a result, air quality across the state has improved compared to earlier in the summer. While these fires continue to be a concern in Wyoming, wildland fire potential will begin to decrease throughout October and return to normal in November.

Higher elevations in Wyoming and Colorado observed their first snow for the season in September. A dusting was observed in Northwest Colorado near Rabbit Ears Pass and Cameron Pass. Light snow was also observed in Rocky Mountain National Park and even resulted in road closures due to whiteout conditions from blowing snow. In Wyoming, a light blanket of snow was observed in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park. While neither were measurable events, cooler temperatures are on the way as we continue into fall.

Above: Departure from 1991-2020 normal temperature (left) and percent of normal precipitation (right) for September 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 for September but remained at or near normal across most of the region. With precipitation near-normal, only a few areas ranked in the top 10 wettest or driest on record for September (see page 6 for monthly rankings). Portions of eastern South Dakota, central Nebraska, and Kansas received the greatest departure from normal with total precipitation as much as 2 to 3 inches (50.80 to 76.20 mm) above normal for the month. Valentine, NE observed 4.01 inches (101.85 mm) for the month ranking it the 5th wettest September on record, with the wettest being 5.91 inches (150.11 mm) set in 1973. This was also 233 percent above normal for the month. The above normal precipitation across central Nebraska slowed corn harvest ending the month with 21 percent of the corn being harvested. Corn harvest, which has been impacted due to the drought, began early harvest this year in September. However, this much needed precipitation across the region did help to provide some minor improvements to drought conditions, most of which was observed in South Dakota, and helped return streamflow in most of the region to normal and above normal.

In contrast to the above normal precipitation, portions of Wyoming and North Dakota observed slightly below normal precipitation and ranked in the top 10 driest for the month. Sheridan, WY, which received 13 percent of normal precipitation, ranked the 2nd driest September on record with a total on 0.04 inches (1.02 mm) of precipitation (the driest record being a trace recorded in 2012). Williston, ND also ranked in the top 10. Williston observed 0.10 inches (2.54 mm) for September ranking it the 7th driest on record (the driest record being 0.01 inches, 0.25mm, recorded in 1899). This lack of precipitation has impacted wetlands in North Dakota. As a result, North Dakota’s duck hunters are observing poor wetland conditions which will impact the duck hunting season. The number of duck hunting wetlands are down 44 percent across the state from last fall as a result of the lack of precipitation and drought conditions.

Above: Total precipitation in inches (left) and departure from normal
precipitation in inches (right) for September 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

Streamflow across the region continued to vary for September. Precipitation in the eastern portion of the region helped streamflow in the lower half of the basin return to normal. This precipitation also led to areas in Kansas, Nebraska, and North Dakota observing above to much above normal streamflow. In contrast, most of Montana, Wyoming, and the western portions of the Dakotas still remain below to much below average for streamflow, aside from some isolated areas that are seeing normal flows. Multiple streams in Montana and Wyoming have also observed record low flow for the month

Temperatures

Temperatures remained slightly above normal across the region for September aside from a small area in western Wyoming that observed below normal temperatures. The highest departures from normal were observed in North Dakota, Kansas, western South Dakota and Nebraska, and eastern Wyoming and Colorado. These areas observed temperatures over 4.0 degrees F (2.2 degrees C) above normal for September.

As a result of these above-normal temperatures, many locations ranked in the top 5 warmest September on record. Chadron, NE tied a previous record set in 1969 for the warmest September on record with an average temperature of 67.0 degrees F (19.4 degrees C) which was 4.2 degrees F (2.3 degrees C) above normal. Five other cities, located in Nebraska, North Dakota, and Colorado, observed the 2nd warmest September on record (see page 6 for monthly rankings).

Warm temperatures in the region at the end of the month resulted in many areas in North Dakota surpassing daily temperatures records, including Dickinson, ND with a record of 100.0 degrees F (37.8 degrees C) on the 28th of September surpassing a record of 98.0 degrees F (36.7 degrees C) set in 1905. This also is the latest in the year any station in North Dakota has reached 100.0 degrees F (37.8 degrees C) or higher. Bismarck, ND also reached its 50th day this year with a high temperature equal to or above 90.0 degrees F (32.2 degrees C), the record being 53 days set in 1936. Despite these high temperatures, some minor improvements were seen in drought conditions throughout September in North Dakota and other areas within the region.

Above: Daily temperatures for September 2021 along with extremes
and normals values in Chadron, NE

Drought Conditions

Dry weather across the High Plains led to the continued spread of drought and abnormally dry (D0 – D4) conditions. Areas experiencing D0-D4 conditions increased from 80 to 86 percent over the month of September. Despite the increase, areas experiencing extreme and exceptional drought (D3-D4) conditions decreased 3 percent across the region

The drought that has gripped the Dakotas finally saw relief in the month of September. In South Dakota, the areas experiencing D3-D4 were reduced 16 percent during the month. D4 was reduced 5 percent in North Dakota, with only a small margin of the state still under D4 conditions. Despite the improvements in the northern part of the region, the southern portions saw an increase in drought and abnormally dry conditions. Wyoming experienced a 10 percent increase in severe to exceptional drought (D2-D4) conditions. Recent dryness has impacted Colorado, with the state experiencing a 37 percent increase to D0-D4 conditions during the month of September. Throughout the rest of the region, other minor adjustments were made. According to the U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook for October, drought removal is likely across 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, ENSO-neutral conditions continued for the month of September. However, a transition to La Niña conditions is possible in the next few months, lasting throughout the winter, and a La Niña watch has been issued. 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 December indicates a less than 50 percent chance of river flooding for much of the region with a small area in the lower basin with 50 to 80 percent chance of minor flooding. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), above-normal wildland fire potential is expected for most of Wyoming, and a small portion of South Dakota and Colorado through October.  The wildland fire potential is expected to return to normal in November.

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 temperature outlook for the next three months shows an increased chance for above normal temperatures for most of the contiguous United States. The Southwest and Northeastern portions of the United States have the highest chances for above-normal temperatures. In the southern High Plains, there is a slightly increased chance of above-normal temperatures for the next three months, whereas in 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 stretching across the southern half of the United States with a portion stretching into the High Plains. The highest chances of below-normal precipitation are present in Texas, New Mexico, and parts of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma. In the High Plains, there is a slightly increased chance of below-normal precipitation, aside from North Dakota and portions of Wyoming and South Dakota that have equal chances of above-, below-, and near-normal precipitation.

Drought

The U.S Seasonal Drought Outlook released on September 16th indicates drought conditions are expected to persist in the Western U.S and Northern Plains over the next three months. Drought conditions will remain in the Northwest with some minor improvements likely. In portions of southern Nebraska, eastern Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, drought development is likely.

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.