Hydrologic Outlook
Issued by NWS Hastings, NE
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000 FGUS73 KGID 170308 ESFGID NEC129-NEC175-NEC077-NEC125-NEC163-NEC093-NEC019-NEC079-NEC019- KSC147-KSC163-051800- Probabilistic Hydrologic Outlook National Weather Service Hastings NE 500 PM CST Thu Feb 16 2017 ...Spring Flood and Water Resources Outlook Number 1... This outlook is for the Hastings Hydrologic Service Area (HSA). In South Central Nebraska this outlook includes the Platte...Loup...Little Blue...and Republican Rivers and their tributaries. In North Central Kansas...the Solomon River and its tributaries are included. ...The potential for spring flooding is near normal on the Platte River and slightly below normal for most other rivers across south central Nebraska... ...The potential for spring flooding across north central Kansas is near to slightly above normal... ...Short Term Hydrologic Outlook...February 16th - March 2nd... Flooding is unlikely through March 2nd with very minimal if any chance of flooding through this period. We have no snow cover currently present. The ice has already melted off of area rivers likely ending our threat of ice jam flooding for the season. The ground has thawed and will be able to effectively absorb precipitation given our currently near normal soil moisture levels. We are expecting a higher likelihood of above normal precipitation through the end of February. However, we more than likely should be able to handle the typical late February storm system be it rain or snow with little if any threat of flooding. ...Long Term Hydrologic Outlook...March 3rd Through June 15th... The potential for spring flooding varies from near to slightly above average over the Solomon River Basin of north central Kansas, to near average for the Platte River across south central Nebraska, to slightly below average for most of the other river basins across south central Nebraska. South Central Nebraska Spring Flood Outlook: Antecedent conditions including a generally dry summer and fall of 2016 across south central Nebraska along with an absence of any strong climate indicators resulting in a spring precipitation outlook of equal chances, leads us to a below normal possibility of spring flooding for most Nebraska rivers except for the Platte River. However, it is important to note that flooding can not be ruled out even in dry or normal rainfall years as it only takes one heavy rainfall event to create localized Flash Flooding. The Platte River is a bit of an exception as it`s headwaters originate high in the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming where conditions are currently more favorable for spring flooding than for rivers originating in Nebraska. The current mountain snowpack in the Platte River Basin is currently running above normal from 119% to 145% of normal. The largest reservoirs in the upper Platte Basin are for the most part as full or fuller than in 2016 and are also fuller than historical averages. This may again result in higher flows this year making it easier for flooding should we end up seeing significant spring rains. However, unlike last year where the spring precipitation outlook was for more likely above normal spring rainfall in the Platte Basin, this year we are seeing equal chances and consequently more uncertainty on how we will end up regarding spring rains. Putting it all together we have the favorable mountain conditions for high spring runoff in the Platte Basin, but have been abnormally dry along our stretch of the Platte River in south central Nebraska as noted by the drought monitor. These factors in a sense lead us to a near normal probability of spring flooding for the Platte River and much will depend on how much rain we ultimately receive this spring. The peak time for high flows on the Platte River from mountain snowmelt generally runs from late May through early June. Therefore, this will be the timeframe needing to be watched most closely on the Platte River to see if it coincides with any abnormally heavy rainfall events. North Central Kansas Spring Flood Outlook: As a hold over from last year`s heavier rains across north central Kansas there is a near to slightly above average chance of spring flooding across the Solomon River Basin. However, there is also much uncertainty given the lack of clear climate signals regarding expected spring precipitation amounts as noted by the equal chances spring precipitation outlook. ...Climatological Review (2016 and More Recent Precipitation Trends)... Let`s start with a look back at precipitation totals for the year 2016 across the 30 county NWS Hastings coverage area (24 counties in Nebraska and 6 in Kansas): In the most basic sense, 2016 precipitation across the 30-county area as whole would best be described as relatively "near-normal". More specifically, the majority of locations observed annual totals between 85-125 percent of the official 30-year normal. In other words, for most places, 2016 as a whole was not overly-dry or overly- wet. That being said, there were some localized drier and wetter exceptions, and the summer season in particular did exhibit more variability/extremes than the year as a whole (see state-specific summary below for more details). Now here is a closer look at 2016 precipitation totals/trends within both Nebraska/Kansas portions of the local area (including a precipitation table below): Central/South Central Nebraska (24 Counties): Most of the local area measured annual precipitation totals between 85-125 percent (or generally 2-5") of the 30-year normal. From a purely statistical standpoint, this means that most of the area was relatively near-normal. However, when digging deeper, there was some distinct and somewhat odd geographical variability. For one, the driest portions of the area really seemed to focus within central counties, including the Tri Cities and nearby areas. In contrast, some of the highest annual totals tended to focus around the "outer fringes" of the area, farthest from the Tri Cities. Based on data from around 40 official NWS Cooperative Observer stations, a few of the driest sites in 2016 included Minden with 19.96" (6.26" below normal) and Hastings airport with 20.66" (6.45" below normal). In contrast, a few of the wettest local Nebraska stations featured Shelby (3 miles NE) with 33.07" (6.21" above normal) and Ord airport with 30.62" (5.68" above normal). Although the year as a whole did not appear overly "extreme" for most places, the meteorological summer season in particular (June-August) was notably dry especially within central counties, putting stress on crops during the peak growing season. Highlighting the notable summer dryness included Minden, which had its 2nd-driest summer on record with only 3.29" (30 percent of normal), and Grand Island airport, which had its 6th- driest summer on record with only 4.72" (44 percent of normal). Please refer to the table below for 2016 totals for dozens of other official stations. North Central Kansas (6 Counties): Compared to Nebraska portions of the area, this portion of North Central Kansas exhibited more uniformity with modestly wetter-than- normal annual precipitation totals, as nearly all places measured between 110-145 percent of 30-year normals. In fact, several stations recorded one of their Top-10 wettest years on record. Unlike many of the Nebraska counties farther north, even the summer months featured near-to-above normal rainfall. Based on data from around 18 official NWS Cooperative Observer stations, a few of the very-wettest sites in 2016 featured Natoma with 36.41" (10.92" above normal) and Plainville (4 miles WNW) with 36.20" (10.77" above normal). In contrast, one of the drier (but still slightly above normal) stations included Phillipsburg with 25.93" (0.51" above normal). 2016 Drought recap (entire NWS Hastings coverage area): The year started out with no drought categories whatsoever within the 30-county area, according to weekly drought updates by the U.S. Drought Monitor. However, during mainly the latter half of the year, some modest degradation took place especially within central portions of the Nebraska coverage area, mainly in response to the notably drier-than-normal summer months mentioned above. From August onward, at least a small area of Severe Drought (category D2) became focused primarily within Kearney County (the "epicenter" of summer dryness). Extending slightly outward from Kearney County to include at least portions of several nearby counties was an area of Moderate Drought (category D1). While not considered "true drought", a broader zone of "Abnormally Dry" (category D0) conditions enveloped most counties along/west of the Highway 281 corridor at year`s end. The first table below features precipitation totals and departures from normal/percent of normal for the entire year of 2016, with data depicted for 31 locations scattered throughout the local area. Most of these stations are NWS Cooperative Observers, along with a few primary airport sites: Location Precip Percent of North Central KS All of 2016 Normal Departure Normal -------- -------- ------ --------- -------- Alton 2SW 33.37 26.13 +7.24 128 Beloit 35.35 27.92 +7.43 127 Jewell 32.73 26.82 +5.91 122 Logan 29.54 22.73 +6.81 130 Natoma 36.41 26.29 +10.12 138 Phillipsburg 25.93 25.42 +0.51 102 Plainville 4WNW 36.20 25.43 +10.77 142 Smith Center 32.61 25.71 +6.90 127 Location Precip Percent of South Central NE All of 2016 Normal Departure Normal -------- -------- ------ --------- -------- Aurora 4N 25.82 30.96 -5.14 83 Cambridge 22.73 22.49 +0.24 101 Clay Center 24.56 28.78 -4.22 85 Elwood 8S 20.93 23.43 -2.50 89 Franklin 23.93 26.23 -2.30 91 Genoa 2W 28.30 28.82 -0.52 98 Geneva 27.85 29.27 -1.42 95 Gothenburg 27.65 23.71 +3.94 117 Grand Island Arpt 24.23 26.66 -2.43 91 Greeley 21.52 26.91 -5.39 80 Hastings Airport 20.66 27.11 -6.45 76 Holdrege 26.81 27.00 -0.19 99 Hebron 31.86 31.39 +0.47 101 Kearney Airport 21.87 25.23 -3.36 87 Lexington 6SSE 26.37 23.44 +2.93 113 Loup City 26.78 27.09 -0.31 99 Minden 19.96 26.22 -6.26 76 Ord Airport 30.62 24.94 +5.68 123 Osceola 27.96 28.89 -0.93 97 Ravenna 26.29 26.54 -0.25 99 Shelby 3NE 33.07 26.86 +6.21 123 St. Paul 27.86 26.21 +1.65 106 York 3N 30.33 30.23 +0.10 100 Now that we`ve examined precipitation trends/totals for the entire year 2016, it`s time to take a closer look at more recent precipitation trends over the past few months, specifically what has transpired since the start of "meteorological winter" back on Dec. 1st (meteorological winter is defined as the three calendar months of Dec-Jan-Feb). As evidenced in the data presented in the table below (and supported by NWS AHPS precipitation analysis), this winter-so-far has featured at least slightly-above-normal precipitation. More specifically, the majority of the local 30-county area has observed 95-150 percent of normal precipitation since Dec. 1st. Interestingly, the majority of this winter precipitation has fallen in the form of liquid rain and not snow! In fact, as of this writing, Grand Island has measured merely 4.8" of snow so far this season (14.6" below normal) and is on pace to have one of the least-snowy winters on record! For much of the area, the single-biggest precipitation episode so far this winter consisted of a freezing rain/icing event on Jan. 15-16. Although this storm resulted in at least minor damage to power infrastructure and trees due to ice accrual, it brought beneficial and widespread precipitation of generally 0.50-1.50". Earlier in the winter, Christmas Day featured a rare round of winter thunderstorms with brief, soaking rainfall, and even damaging winds and tornadoes! Although this winter as a whole has featured above normal precipitation, it is worth noting that in terms of very recent trends, these first few weeks of February have been very dry (with the main exception of extreme northern local counties such as Valley/Greeley which have been near-normal). Keeping things in perspective though, one must keep in mind that no matter how much precipitation falls during the winter, it usually only accounts for a small percentage of total annual precipitation, the vast majority of which falls during the spring and summer. This next table below highlights precipitation totals and departures from normal/percent of normal for meteorological winter thus far, covering Dec. 1 - Feb. 14. This table features data for 29 locations scattered throughout the local area, many of which are the same as found in the 2016 annual table above. Most of these stations are official NWS Cooperative Observers, along with a few primary airport sites: Location Precip Percent of North Central KS Dec 1-Feb 14 Normal Departure Normal -------- -------- ------ --------- -------- Alton 2SW 2.78 1.78 +1.00 156 Beloit 2.47 1.90 +0.57 130 Jewell 2.28 1.90 +0.38 120 Natoma 2.03 1.98 +0.05 103 Phillipsburg 1.92 1.49 +0.43 129 Plainville 4WNW 1.66 1.75 -0.09 95 Smith Center 2.02 1.44 +0.58 140 Location Precip Percent of South Central NE Dec 1-Feb 14 Normal Departure Normal -------- -------- ------ --------- -------- Aurora 4N 2.10 1.84 +0.26 114 Cambridge 1.74 1.31 +0.43 133 Clay Center 2.49 1.63 +0.86 153 Elwood 8S 1.41 1.40 +0.01 101 Franklin 2.19 1.55 +0.64 141 Geneva 2.45 1.61 +0.84 152 Grand Island Arpt 1.91 1.50 +0.41 127 Greeley 1.37 1.55 -0.18 88 Hastings Airport 1.47 1.26 +0.21 117 Hebron 2.46 2.05 +0.41 120 Holdrege 1.84 1.36 +0.48 135 Kearney Airport 1.88 1.33 +0.55 141 Lexington 6SSE 1.48 1.10 +0.38 135 Loup City 1.56 1.59 -0.03 98 Minden 1.38 1.23 +0.15 112 Ord Airport 1.82 1.18 +0.64 154 Osceola 2.29 1.89 +0.40 121 Ravenna 1.34 1.37 -0.03 98 Shelby 3NE 2.33 1.68 +0.65 139 Superior 1.61 1.95 -0.34 83 St. Paul 1.95 1.31 +0.64 149 York 3N 2.37 2.31 +0.06 103 ...Weather/Climatological Outlook For The Next Week Through The Next Three Months... It`s now time to switch gears and look ahead to expected weather conditions over the next several days and expected climate trends over the next several months: Starting with the most immediate local weather expectations over the next week (through Feb. 23): According to the latest NWS Hastings 7- day forecast, a remarkably mild and fairly inactive/dry weather pattern should prevail. Precipitation-wise, there are relatively small chances for rain showers on Sunday night into Monday (Feb. 20), and next Thursday (Feb. 23) could feature the beginning stages of a potentially more widespread precipitation event, although forecast uncertainty is still high with this being a week away. Temperature-wise, confidence is high that the ongoing notably-mild stretch will continue, with daily high temperatures mainly in the 60s and overnight lows mainly in the 30s, before a possible cool- down to more winter-like values returns late next week. Putting this ongoing warmth in perspective, 30-year normal highs during the latter part of February typically average somewhere in the low-mid 40s across most of South Central Nebraska/North Central Kansas. Looking out a bit farther into the final week of February, the latest 8-14 day outlook from the Climate Prediction Center (valid Feb. 23-March 1) at least slightly favors a continued above-normal temperature regime (33-50 percent chance) and also slightly favors above normal precipitation (33-40 percent chance). Looking ahead to the upcoming month of March as a whole, the latest one-month outlook from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) released Feb. 16 favors "equal chances" of seeing above, near or below normal temperatures during the month, and also calls for "equal chances" of seeing above, near or below normal precipitation. This "equal chances" forecast means there is no clear signal in current longer- term forecasts to support one of these outcomes over another (above normal, near normal, below normal). However, as a point of reference, normal March precipitation across the local area ranges from around 1.40" in the western-most counties (such as Dawson/Furnas), up to around 2.10" in far eastern counties along and near Highway 81 (such as York/Thayer). Temperature-wise, long-term 30-year normals (based on 1981-2010 data) indicate that March high temperatures across South Central Nebraska and North Central Kansas gradually climb from averages in the mid-40s/near-50 early in the month to the upper 50s/low 60s by month`s end. Average daily low temperatures in March gradually increase from around 20 to around 30 degrees. Turning to the meteorological spring months of March-April-May as a whole, the overall climate pattern is expected to be defined by ENSO- neutral conditions, as the weak La Nina pattern of earlier this winter has abated. Not surprisingly given the transition to ENSO- neutral, the latest CPC three-month outlook valid for March-May and released on Feb. 16 shows no strong signals for either above or below normal precipitation for this spring, but it does slightly favor above normal temperatures. More specifically, most of the local Nebraska area has a small tilt toward above normal temperatures (33-40 percent chance), while north central Kansas is assigned slightly higher probabilities (40-50 percent) of above normal readings. As for precipitation, the entire local area is assigned equal chances of measuring above, near or below normal values. Again, this means that long range forecast tools just do not present enough of a signal to support one of these possible outcomes over another. Despite the current lack of predictability regarding how the upcoming spring as a whole might turn out, one can keep in mind that 30-year normal precipitation from March-May across the NWS Hastings coverage area typically ranges from 7-10 inches, with the lowest amounts generally west of Highway 183 and highest amounts near the Highway 81 corridor. Finally, the latest U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook issued by CPC on Feb. 16 and valid through the end of May indicates that the small, localized area of Moderate Drought (category D1) currently indicated in the Kearney County area is expected to improve. For the rest of the local area, there are currently no expectations of drought development through May. (The longer range forecasts issued by CPC and referenced in the preceding paragraphs are based on output from various forecast models, as well as forecaster expertise, and take into consideration ongoing global/tropical atmospheric and oceanic states, recent trends in observed data, soil moisture conditions, etc. More information about these longer-range forecasts can be obtained from the CPC web site at: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov) ...Future Outlooks... The next spring probabilistic outlook is currently scheduled to be issued Thursday, March 2nd. && Visit our local NWS office website for current weather/hydrological and climate information for South Central Nebraska and North Central Kansas at: www.weather.gov/hastings Additional climate information for the region can be obtained at: www.hprcc.unl.edu Additional information on climatological outlooks can be found at: www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov Further information on drought conditions can be obtained at: www.drought.gov www.drought.unl.edu www.droughtmonitor.unl.edu Information on mountain snowpack can be found at: www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/ftpref/downloads/wsf/201702wsfwww.pdf www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov NWS AHPS precipitation analysis maps can be found at: http://water.weather.gov National snow analysis page can be found at: www.nohrsc.noaa.gov/nsa Soil Moisture: www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/Soilmst_Monitoring/US/Soilmst/Soilmst. shtml Reservoir Levels: www.usbr.gov/gp/hydromet/curres_google.htm For training on NWS probabilistic graphics: www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSoEgvsnpv4 For training on NWS river forecast graphics: www.youtube.com/watch?v=psIByj8EZY0 $$ Wesely/Pfannkuch

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Hastings Weather Forecast Office
6365 Osborne Drive West
Hastings, NE 68901
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Page last modified: 17-Feb-2017 3:08 AM
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