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Encouraging Forecast Offers Hope Amid Drought Concerns in Nebraska
Nebraska Ag Connection - 05/24/2023

Despite persistent drought concerns in the Central Plains, there is some encouraging news for farmers and ranchers in Nebraska. The recently released official summer forecast from the Climate Prediction Center indicates that the region, including Nebraska, has equal chances of experiencing normal, above-normal, or below-normal temperatures and precipitation during the summer.

While an "equal chances" forecast lacks a definitive answer, it does suggest a more balanced outlook compared to extreme conditions. Agricultural climatologists, such as Eric Hunt from Nebraska Extension and Nebraska State Climate Office, note that this forecast could mean fewer scorching hot days in the 90s, which would be beneficial for crop yields and reduce energy bills while lowering the risk of heat-related health issues.

However, the forecast also indicates lower chances of significant drought relief across the eastern two-thirds of Nebraska, with some potential improvement in the western region. Despite this, there is optimism for gradually reducing drought coverage and intensity across the Central Plains, including Nebraska.

The forecast does present two exceptions. The extreme southwest region of Nebraska has a slightly higher chance of above-normal temperatures, while eastern Nebraska has a slightly better chance of increased precipitation during the summer.

On a positive note, the end of the La Niña climate phenomenon and the emergence of El Niño offer promise for moisture to return. The current pattern of a summertime El Niño following La Niña, similar to patterns observed in 2006, 2009, and 2018, brings hope for improved conditions. Given the challenging winter wheat season and the impact on crops and pastures in Nebraska, any rainfall is welcome.

Farmers and ranchers in Nebraska remain cautiously hopeful, as they navigate one of the most difficult seasons on record and monitor the evolving weather patterns for potential relief from the persistent drought conditions.

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