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The dry side of the weather spectrum

Jeff Caldwell 06/04/2013 @ 8:40am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

While it may be tough for some farmers to even fathom (depending on your location), there are parts of the country that remain on the short side when it comes to critical crop moisture. If there's a bull's-eye for the dryness in the country, it's in the southwest and western Plains. But some Nebraska farmers have had just as tough a fight on their hands as any in the nation over the last year. And weather-watchers say that's likely to continue through this summer.

There's a bit of irony in the current situation for at least the western half of Nebraska, says state climatologist Al Dutcher. Farmers there have seen just as cool and damp a spring as have those farther east who continue to battle those conditions. That's not stopping forecasters from calling for that trend to end quickly.

"The Climate Prediction Center has yet to back off its projections for summer heat across the central and southern High Plains region. The two-week forecast for early June indicates above-normal temperatures for all of Nebraska, except extreme northeast Nebraska," Dutcher says. "The entire state is still projected to experience above-normal temperatures June through August."

That's likely to come alongside lower-than-normal precipitation through later this month, July, and into at least mid-August, Dutcher says. Though the aggregate amount of precipitation will likely be lower, don't rule out severe weather -- and the potential heavy precipitation that goes with it -- for at least the next two weeks, Dutcher says. So, even though much of the state's going to ultimately see a moisture deficit, it may not start to unfold until the middle of June.

"Although severe weather was lacking through mid-May for most of the country, there has been a significant uptick in active weather the past two weeks. The western two thirds of the state are projected to experience below-normal moisture, while the eastern third has equal chances of experiencing below-normal, normal, or above-normal moisture during the same time frames," Dutcher says. "Short-term model forecasts continue to point toward an active weather pattern for the western Corn Belt through mid-June. The models show continued development of upper air troughs over the western U.S., moving northeast toward the western Great Lakes. This is a perfect scenario for bouts of heavy rain and severe weather for the central and northern Plains. Planting, tillage, spraying, and haying could continue to prove to be a challenge in the short-term."

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