DAWSON COUNTY — There has been some minor improvement in the ongoing drought conditions across the local area due in part to the recent rounds of snowfall.
The United States Drought Monitor was updated on Thursday and looking locally, the Extreme Drought, D3, conditions were pulled back from Dawson County, save a small portion of the southwest corner. Areas north of the Platte River remain under moderate drought, D1, conditions.
Nearly all of Gosper County still remains under D3 conditions, with some improvement on the eastern side of the county, running from north to south.
Across the state, 28 percent is under D2 conditions or worse. Normal moisture or higher will be needed over the next three months to help alleviate the current moisture deficit.
According to the National Weather Service in Hastings, while there has been wet snowfall, it only puts a small dent into a 4-8 inch moisture deficit which exists across the area over a nine month period.
Looking ahead, the area is likely to see overall warmer than normal and drier than normal conditions through March, April and May, according to NWS Hastings.
“Arctic air spilled into the Nation's midsection and persisted throughout the week, producing weekly departures of more than 25 degrees below normal from the northern Plains and upper Midwest southward into Texas. Numerous daily record lows were broken, with minimums plunging to -50 degrees in the northern Plains, and sub-zero readings southward into the Texas Panhandle,” according to the Drought Monitor summary.
The arctic air was accompanied by frequent winter storm systems which dropped several inches of snow. After these several weeks of precipitation, some improvements were warranted across Nebraska, according to the Drought Monitor.
There is a caveat, in that the improvements assume the snow will melt and infiltrate into the topsoil and not runoff or sublimate. This can be an issue with low elevation snow melt, while higher elevation snows tend to melt more evenly and slowly.