This year's drought conditions may arrive on a fast track - Omaha.com
Published Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 7:09 am
This year's drought conditions may arrive on a fast track

LINCOLN — Sequels rarely turn out better than the original, and drought appears to be no exception.

As Nebraska heads into a second year of drought, agriculture and climate experts say conditions will deteriorate more rapidly this year than last year if hot, dry weather hits before substantial rains fall.

Last year was bad enough, so it's hard to picture worse. The drought caused record wildfires, water restrictions in about 80 communities, withered dryland crops and pastures unable to sustain normal cattle numbers.

Mark Svoboda, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center, said the state is poised for another tough year because the 2012 drought depleted soil moisture and lowered reservoirs and streams.

Even normal rains won't be enough to avert problems, Svoboda said, because the soil is simply too dry to recover to the point that it can sustain thirsty crops through hot summer weather.

Svoboda and other climate and ag experts briefed each other and state officials Monday at the first 2013 meeting of the Nebraska Climate Assessment Response Committee.

The committee — or “drought task force,” as it is commonly known — received little good news at the session:

An uncertain farm bill makes it hard for farmers to know what drought mitigation steps make the most sense financially.

Below-normal water content in the snows that feed the North and South Platte Rivers means little relief from that important source of water.

Colorado and Wyoming are in drought, too, so any improved runoff in the upper Platte watershed will be consumed by dry soils and low reservoirs in those states before it could have a chance of reaching Nebraska.

Rainfall and snowfall this fall and winter are 30 percent to 50 percent behind normal in some areas of the state.

About half of Nebraska's winter wheat is rated poor to very poor.

Reservoir and stream levels are likely to continue declining, even with normal precipitation; some streams are nearing record lows at a time when they should be rising.

More communities are likely to have problems providing water to residents.

Tree damage, already extensive, is likely to worsen.

Nebraska hay stocks are their lowest since 1957.

Among the steps taken in response to the situation, the state has determined which communities are most at risk for water problems and is offering advice. Some farmers are considering more drought-tolerant crops such as sorghum. And the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension is focusing outreach programs on drought education.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1102, nancy.gaarder@owh.com

Contact the writer: Nancy Gaarder

nancy.gaarder@owh.com    |   402-444-1102    |  

Nancy writes about weather, including a blog, Nancy's Almanac. She enjoys explaining the science behind weather and making weather stories relevant in daily life.

Some city streets remain closed
EB L Street lane to close
Owners of exotic dance bar deny prostitution allegations
More Nebraskans are electing to vote early
Nebraska's U.S. Senate candidates stick to familiar topics at Omaha forum
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
Gov. Heineman vetoes bill to ease restrictions on nurse practitioners
19-year-old killed in one-vehicle crash at 72nd & Shirley
8% of alcohol sellers checked in Omaha area last week sold booze to minors
OPS bus, SUV collide; no students onboard at the time
Waitress who served alcohol to teen before fatal crash gets jail time, probation
Lori Jenkins, charged as accessory in 4 murders, waives speedy trial
Iowa State servers hacked, nearly 30,000 SSNs at risk
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
2nd District House race: After 8 terms, Lee Terry knows how D.C. works — and doesn't
Bellevue man is killed at Minnesota dance hall after South Sudanese basketball tourney
Spring corn planting still sputters in Nebraska, Iowa, other key states
Nebraska banking and finance director to retire
U.S. Senate race: State Auditor Mike Foley defends Shane Osborn against ad campaign
Public defender to represent Nikko Jenkins in sentencing
Mid-America Center on track for lower operating loss
Bluffs City Council approves dozens of new numbered street lights
National Law Enforcement Memorial Week set for May
Ted Cruz backs Pete Ricketts' campaign for governor
Omahan charged with 5th-offense DUI after street race causes rollover
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
The idea that Paul Hogan had studied and then hatched at his mother's table was that older people, rather than moving in with relatives or to an assisted-living center, would much prefer to stay home instead.
Breaking Brad: Into the claw machine! Florida kid follows Lincoln kid's lead
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a child climbed inside a claw machine. Hey, Florida kid: Nobody likes a copycat.
Breaking Brad: Even Chuck Hassebrook's throwing mud!
The Nebraska campaigns have turned so ugly, Democrat Chuck Hassebrook lobbed unfounded accusations at an imaginary opponent.
Breaking Brad: Kraft wiener recall is business opportunity for TD Ameritrade Park
Instead of returning the wieners, TD Ameritrade Park is calling them "cheese dogs" and charging double.
Breaking Brad: Photos with the Easter Bunny are so 2010
In a sign of the times, most kids ran out of patience waiting for a photo with the Easter Bunny at the mall, just snapped a selfie and went home.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Tokyo Sushi
$5 for $10 or $10 for $20 toward All-You-Can-Eat Sushi Purchase
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »