Climate at a Glance Highlights: March 2022

Temperatures throughout the region have been near-normal during the month of March and since the start of the year. Precipitation has been below normal to near record lows. Here are some highlights from the release of the March edition of Climate at a Glance.

March 2022

Statewide Precipitation Ranks for March 2022

For the statewide records, North Dakota observed their seventh driest March. Only an average of 0.21 inches of precipitation fell throughout the state, which was 0.53 inches below normal. Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming averaged below normal precipitation, while Colorado was near normal and Kansas was above normal.

March Precipitation Rankings for North Dakota Counties

At the county level, North Dakota had 12 counties in the top five driest months on record. Three of these counties (Eddy, Foster, and Sheridan) recorded their driest March on record. Outside of North Dakota, two other states had counties rank in the top five driest. South Dakota had two (Perkings and Harding), while Nebraska had one (Sheridan).

January-March 2022

Statewide Precipitation Ranks for January through March 2022

Statewide records since the beginning of the year indicate near-record dryness in the northern part of the region. South Dakota ranks second driest on record since January first. The statewide average precipitation has been around 45 percent of normal. Nebraska and Wyoming rank seventh driest, receiving 47 and 67 percent of their normal, respectively. North Dakota also ranked 13th, with around 60 percent of their normal precipitation. Colorado and Kansas were near normal during this period.

January through March Precipitation Rankings for Nebraska Counties

Nebraska is among the driest, with 28 counties in the top five driest since the beginning of the year. Of those 28, 15 ranks among the driest on record in the northern and central portions of the state. The driest is Loup County, having received only 16 percent of its normal precipitation. Several stations in the north-central parts of Nebraska have received only five percent of their normal precipitation through the end of March.

January through March Precipitation Rankings for South Dakota Counties

Similar to Nebraska, South Dakota has been extremely dry as well. 24 counties rank in the top five driest, while two (Gregory and Tripp) are the driest on record for this period. Five counties also ranked second driest during this period.

Elsewhere throughout the region, North Dakota has ten counties in the top five driest while Wyoming has four counties. Some areas like North Dakota will improve in the April rankings due to precipitation in April, while the central High Plains continue to remain dry this month.

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 and percent of normal precipitation 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

Download PDF below:

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

The 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
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

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

Download PDF below

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

2021 Annual Climate Summary

2021 Annual Climate Summary

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

A Year of Extremes

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


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

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

Precipitation

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

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


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


The following locations had notable precipitation records during 2021:


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


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


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


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

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

Temperature

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

The following locations had notable temperature records during 2021:


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


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


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


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

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


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

Drought Conditions

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

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

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

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

Noteworthy Events

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

Drought stressed crops in KS. Photo courtesy Chip Redmond

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

Station Summaries: By the Numbers

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