Weekly Weather Outlook and Update: May 18, 2024

Weekly Weather Outlook and Update: May 18, 2024
WPC precipitation projections
May 18th, 2024 | Eric Hunt - Agricultural Meteorology and Climate Resilience Extension Educator

Sunshine and the 80s
The next few days will feature plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures, especially Friday, May 17 when highs should easily exceed 80 statewide. Temperatures may even be every bit of 90 around North Platte, Valentine and Bloomfield on Friday. It will also be relatively breezy, especially in the afternoon. All in all, a good day for yard work, a picnic, or golf if you can play hooky from work. A weak front will move through the state on Saturday so temperatures will be 5-10°F cooler than tomorrow but still warm for mid-May. There is a slight chance of showers in central and eastern Nebraska with the frontal passage Saturday morning, but most places won’t have more than a few clouds.

Rain on the Scarecrow, Mud on the Plow
While chances of rain are quite low in the next few days, Sunday, May 19 starts the beginning of another active period of weather. The front that moves through early Saturday will stall southeast of us and start retreating back to the north by Sunday morning. This will keep warm temperatures around and will bring increasing low level moisture, with dewpoints getting into the 60-65 range east of Kearney. All this sets the stage for a fair amount of instability and with the front starting to move back to the east, central sections of Nebraska from Harlan County to Ord, should keep an eye on severe weather. The SPC already has this section of the state in the 15% risk category and all severe hazards are possible. These storms will move off to the east and northeast through Sunday night but the severe risk may be lower east of Highway 81. Heavier rainfall will be possible as well. The western third of the state is likely to miss out on this round but fear not, you have other chances coming.

The front will not be in any danger of getting a speeding ticket as it will take until Tuesday morning, May 21 for the front to fully clear the state. Expect temperatures to be warmer the further east and southeast you go in the state during the day on Monday, as is often the case in May. In the meantime, a deeper trough will start working its way into the Plains on Monday and this will provide “fuel” for widespread showers and storms across the state from Monday late afternoon into Tuesday. A half inch or more is a good bet everywhere in the state save for the northern part of the Panhandle. Precipitation will clear the state by Tuesday morning and drier, cooler, and breezy conditions will be the rule by Tuesday afternoon statewide.

A modest break in precipitation will start Tuesday afternoon and go through Thursday night. We then turn attention to another system entering the state, which will bring a good chance of rain and thunderstorms statewide between Thursday night and Friday. Saturday probably will be dry but Mother Nature looks to treat the state to additional precipitation by Memorial Day and possibly again a few days later. Hope your lawnmowers are working well!

Cooler Temperatures
Temperatures are likely to be seasonally cool in western Nebraska on Monday and statewide on Tuesday. A brief rebound to more seasonal or slightly above-average temperatures looks likely Wednesday, May 22 and Thursday, May 23 before cooling off again at the end of the week. Coolest temperatures will be confined to the north-central area of the state, where highs may struggle to hit 60°F on Friday, May 24. Low temperatures likely to be in the 40s statewide on Saturday, May 25 and there will be a bit of frost risk in the highest elevations of the Panhandle on Friday morning if skies clear enough. Regardless, we’re not looking at any record cold in the state over the next week — just pleasant temperatures in between storm systems. We’ll have plenty of heat to deal with soon enough.

Bottom Line: We are Entering into Another Period of Very Active Weather
For farmers trying to get crops in the ground, there likely won’t be more than 72 consecutive hours without precipitation between Sunday and the end of the month. The whole state looks to get an inch over the next 10 days (great news for the southern Panhandle and southwest Nebraska) and there is a strong probability of at least two inches in areas along and east of Highway 281. I feel pretty confident that some areas in east-central and northeast Nebraska will get four inches between now and next weekend, and some places could absolutely get half a foot over the next two weeks. The upside is this will lead to further drought relief. Pure speculation on my part, but it is possible that we may be able to declare the state drought free in early June if we have widespread four- to five-inch totals between now and the end of the month in places like Geneva, York, Seward and Lincoln.


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