Chilly weather is likely to remain entrenched in the Midlands for another week to 10 days.
As a result, it could be nearly May before spring takes hold, based on a national weather outlook issued Thursday.
Meteorologists provided updates on the potential for drought, flooding and wildfires. There was good news in their long-term outlook.
Although a second year of drought is likely, there's no early sign of a sudden, extreme worsening of conditions as temperatures rise in Nebraska and Iowa.
Huug van den Dool, meteorologist with the U.S. Climate Prediction Center, said Nebraska and Iowa have the potential to see improved drought conditions during the May-to-July period.
Eastern Nebraska and Iowa are likely to see the most improvement in drought in this region, while gains in the rest of Nebraska are likely to be negligible, according to the National Drought Outlook report released Thursday.
Van den Dool said an easing of the drought is less likely farther west — across western Colorado, western Wyoming and points west of there.
In terms of flooding on the Missouri River, Kevin Stamm, a hydrologist with the Army Corps of Engineers, said plenty of room for runoff remains in the river's reservoirs. The mountain snowpack that feeds the reservoirs remains below average.
Below the dams, heavy rainfall has allowed the corps to curtail releases, which in turn is allowing the corps to replenish the drought-depleted reservoirs.
“We should be able to slowly bring the reservoirs back to normal,” he said.
Recent snows in the Rocky Mountains have improved snowpack in the Platte River basin, Stamm said, but those snow totals remain lower than average.
Still, limits on irrigation are likely. Significant flooding is possible in the eastern portion of the Missouri River watershed, including Missouri and eastern Iowa, he said.
The rain has temporarily eased wildfire concerns, said Dennis Todey, state climatologist for South Dakota. For about the next 10 days, however, the odds favor chillier-than-normal weather for about two-thirds of the country.
Dave Eastlack, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Valley, said climate models indicate that an atmospheric ridge building over the West could shove the chilly weather farther east. Additionally, the jet stream is overdue to make its seasonal trek farther north.
When the jet stream moves north, warmer air and storms are likely to follow, he said.
“It's got to come eventually,” Eastlack said. “This month has been miserable, but this isn't going to hang around forever.”
Mike Moritz, meteorologist at the weather service office in Hastings, said he expects warmer weather by the end of the month in the south-central part of the state.
The final days of April could bring highs in the 70s, Moritz said.
“We might have some hope,” he said. “We might be able to put the snow shovel away.”
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