Unusual cold precipitation this May is not so unusual

Nonstop rain and intermittent cold temperatures this May are a result of the encroaching El Nino weather pattern.

This year Lincoln had the second snowiest winter on record and historic flood damage is still resonating in the streets. The first half of the 20th century experienced a cold climate similar to what we’ve been having this late in spring over the past couple years. May 18 through 20 of the year 1915 had snowfall that measured 19 inches in total. 

“Now, yes it’s pretty late to have snowfall, but when you look at historical records, we’ve had several instances of very significant snowfall this late in May or later,” said State Climatologist Al Dutcher. 

The real warning is that in the last 40 to 50 years, the number of snowy events has risen.

“I think folks need to understand that we’ve entered an exceptionally wet period now for the last few years. Yes we’ve had dryness, we did have some of that encroach into Nebraska last summer. But, there’s a law of averages and so if we’re not going into a new normal where we continue to increase our precipitation, we’re gonna have to offset that at some point with drier conditions,” said Dutcher.

This excessive precipitation is drawing some flood concerns as the water table may not be able to hold much more water.

“For the eastern part of the state there’s a residual hangover from of course our flood event this spring. We have very wet soils,” said Dutcher.

So much precipitation this early on may have adverse effects later on in the summer months. This problem will directly affect the agricultural community and it will be a challenge for farmers to get the best yield possible out of their crops.

“Interesting year ahead of us,” said Dutcher. “There’s going to be a lot of pain unfortunately due to this rain. In the end, we will get our crops and we’ll get it planted. We don’t know how much it’s going to be prevented at this time and we don’t know the impacts of these cool conditions will be as we progress through this summer.”


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