Recent rains lead to improvement in drought conditions
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - From January 1 through June 27, the Lincoln Airport officially measured 6.92″ of precipitation. That number was good for one of the driest starts to the year on record, almost eight inches below normal. Through this incredibly dry period, drought conditions across eastern Nebraska - including in Lancaster County - deteriorated quickly. In fact, for the first time in the Drought Monitor’s history, Lincoln and Lancaster County were placed under the “Exceptional Drought” category, the worst of the five category system. Chances for moisture were in the forecast, they just continued to miss Lincoln, Lancaster County, and eastern Nebraska in general - we were on the losing end of “hit and miss thunderstorms”. Thankfully, those chances for rain finally started to hit. From June 28 through July 12, the Lincoln Airport has officially measured 6.05″ of precipitation, with three days picking up over an inch of moisture, and another day picking up 0.99″. Eastern Nebraska saw plentiful moisture, with the period form late June through mid-July seeing anywhere from 2″ to 6″ of rainfall.
With the recent heavy rains, drought conditions have vastly improved across the area, but more rain is still needed across the region as we continue to fight our way out of drought.
The Drought Monitor released last week - on July 6 - showed improvement in the drought, but a large area of extreme and exceptional drought remained across the eastern third of the state. Western Nebraska had seen improving conditions for the last several weeks and months, with some areas in the far west not under any kind of drought conditions.
The latest Drought Monitor released on Thursday showed even more improvement, especially across the eastern sections of the state, with a dramatic reduction of the exceptional drought that has been impacting the eastern third of the state. Even western sections of the state continued to see a reduction in areas of drought, with now almost 25 percent of the state classified as drought free.
All that being said, there’s still work to do. Much of central and eastern Nebraska is still covered by a wide swath of severe and extreme drought with areas of exceptional drought remaining across parts of northeast and south central Nebraska. Even with the recent rains, areas like Lincoln, Grand Island, Hastings, and Kearney are still anywhere from around 3″ to 6″ below normal for their yearly precipitation. More chances for moisture are in the forecast over the course of the next week, however, widespread heavy rains don’t appear to be likely. Outlooks past the next week tend to favor a continuation of wetter than average conditions across the state, so - fingers crossed - we’ll hope to see more improvement in drought conditions over the coming weeks.
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