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July 2014 Climate Summary

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Source/Author: Natalie Umphlett - High Plains Regional Climate Center 08/11/14

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July 2014 Climate Summary  

For a printable version of the climate summary which includes more figures, data tables, and state summaries, click here

Temperature Summary

The country was divided this month with above normal temperatures dominating the western U.S. and below normal temperatures in the central and eastern U.S. This left the High Plains Region split as well, with cooler conditions for the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas and warmer conditions in western portions of Colorado and Wyoming. The largest temperature departures occurred across southern and eastern Kansas, eastern Nebraska, and pockets of South Dakota, ranging from 4.0-6.0 degrees F (2.2-3.3 degrees C) below normal. This caused some locations to be ranked in the top 10 coolest Julys on record. One example was Dodge City, Kansas which had its 10th coolest July with an average temperature of 75.4 degrees F (24.1 degrees C). The old 1906 record held with 72.8 degrees F (22.7 degrees C) (period of record 1874-2014). Meanwhile, some areas of Colorado and Wyoming were 2.0-4.0 degrees F (1.1-2.2 degrees C) above normal, but this warmth was not record breaking either.

Crop impacts varied greatly this month. Warm and wet conditions aided pasturelands in southeastern Wyoming, while cooler conditions slowed row crop development in North Dakota. Some crop damage occurred due to severe storms, but not nearly as badly as the past two of months. Meanwhile, the residual moisture from June was beneficial to areas which turned extremely dry in July. For example, irrigation in Nebraska started later than usual.

Precipitation Summary

The High Plains Region was generally dry this month, with the main exceptions in central Colorado, southeastern Wyoming, and south-central Kansas. Precipitation totals were quite low across much of Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota with widespread precipitation totals of less than 50 percent of normal. Embedded within this area were some locations that received less than 25 percent of normal precipitation. Wyoming had large areas of both dry and wet conditions with some areas to the north receiving less than 50 percent of normal, while southeastern Wyoming received upwards of 300 percent of normal precipitation. One particularly wet spot was Laramie, Wyoming which received 3.32 inches (84 mm). This amount was 232 percent of normal and ranked as the 6th wettest July on record (period of record 1948-2014). The wettest July occurred back in 1998 with 4.43 inches (113 mm).

Some locations in the eastern part of the Region shifted from extreme wetness to extreme dryness. North Platte, Nebraska went from its 2nd wettest June with 8.75 inches (222 mm) to its driest July on record with 0.14 inches (4 mm). This beat the old record of 0.34 inches (9 mm) set all the way back in 1901 (period of record 1874-2014). A couple of other dry locations included Lincoln, Nebraska with its 7th driest July and Aberdeen, South Dakota with its 5th driest.

July was another active severe weather month with hail, wind, or tornado reports on almost every day in the High Plains Region. One particularly active day was June 21st when a squall line moved across North Dakota, continuing on toward Lake Superior the next day. In addition to destructive winds, several tornadoes were reported as well
as hail and heavy rain. Grand Forks, North Dakota received 2.79 inches (71 mm) of rain on the 21st which set a new record for the day beating out the old 1966 record of 2.57 inches (65 mm). This ranked as the 6th highest 1-day precipitation total for July in Grand Forks (period of record 1893-2014). According to the North Dakota State Climate Office, the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network’s Michigan station received a whopping 4.00 inches (102 mm) on the 21st as well.

Climate Outlook

Just like last month, ENSO-neutral conditions continued, but it is still likely that El Niño conditions will develop with increasing chances through the fall and winter. For the next three months, the temperature outlook indicates that a higher probability of below normal temperatures exists for much of the Region including the Dakotas, Nebraska, the northern half of Kansas, and the eastern sides of Wyoming and Colorado. Meanwhile, the precipitation outlook shows a higher probability of above normal precipitation centered on the Four Corners states, but also including Wyoming, Kansas, most of Nebraska, and southwestern South Dakota. All other areas in the Region have equal chances of above, near, or below normal temperatures and precipitation.The seasonal outlooks combine the effects of long-term trends, soil moisture, and when applicable, the El Niño Southern Oscillation cycle (ENSO).More information about these forecasts can be found here.

Drought Watch

Overall, there was little change to the drought conditions in the High Plains Region this month. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, approximately 22 percent of the Region remained in moderate (D1) to exceptional (D4) drought at the end of July. This range of conditions at the end of June totaled 23 percent. While June was very wet across the eastern half of the Region, July was quite dry. Some areas of eastern South Dakota and Nebraska received little precipitation in July and so abnormally dry conditions (D0) reemerged. An area of D1 also developed in southeastern South Dakota as well as southwestern Wyoming and northwestern Colorado. Kansas had significant improvements regarding extreme drought (D3), decreasing from 21 percent to 9 percent coverage. Conditions in Colorado improved in the east and degraded slightly in the west. Colorado continued to have the last remaining D4 area in the Region. According to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook released July 17th, current drought conditions are expected to improve or be removed in Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado.

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