CLAY CENTER, Neb. (AP) — The state climatologist has advised Nebraska
farmers, ranchers and cattle producers to plan for another year of drought.
At a gathering of beef producers in Clay Center on Tuesday, state
climatologist Al Dutcher estimated that Nebraska has a 70 percent chance of a
second consecutive year of drought, even though he expects more snow and rain
yet this winter and in the coming spring.
The Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln said in
data released Thursday that more than 96 percent of Nebraska remains in the two
worst stages of drought.
According to the Hastings Tribune (http://bit.ly/SpyBq4 ), Dutcher said the likely
scenario includes just enough moisture for farming but
far from enough to replace the water in lakes and streams depleted by last
summer's high heat and low rain.
"We could still come out of this with normal ag yields if we have normal
precipitation, but we're still going to have this hydrological drought," Dutcher
To end the hydrological drought, Dutcher said, 8 to 10 inches of moisture
more than normal would be needed.
The warm, dry weather started early in the 2012 growing season. Trees
flowered in March and began losing leaves in August. Many farmers finished their
fall harvest by early October, weeks earlier than normal.
"Every month seemed to be resembling the month ahead of it," Dutcher said.
The conditions placed early demands on limited water supplies.
Drought Mitigation Center director Michael Hayes said last month that there
is anecdotal evidence that groundwater levels have already been declining in
parts of the state.
If conditions remain dry in 2013, Hayes said, it could create widespread
problems for well owners in the state, so they have been encouraged to have
their well levels checked.
Said Dutcher on Tuesday: "I think everyone should really have a good drought
plan in place. I don't enjoy saying this any more than you enjoy hearing