Nebraska welcomes rain, snow with open arms
Story and photos by Alex Lantz, NewsNetNebraska
As morning thunderstorms gave way to steady rain Sunday afternoon, and as that steady rain turned to sleet and snow, Alan Culver was almost certainly smiling all the while.
The long-time Mahoney Golf Course superintendent could only watch as his course began to show signs of severe dryness over the last three weeks, with brown spots popping up all over.
But with the Lincoln Municipal Airport recording 1.14 inches of moisture Sunday, many Lincoln parks and golf courses will likely show dramatic signs of growth within the next week, according to Culver.
“I’m not sure how much longer we could have gone,” he said. “We’ve been doing everything we can do to get water on the golf course, but it’s difficult when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate. We would have been happy with more (rain), but anything is helpful at this point.”
Culver said he’s had the sprinklers on at Mahoney nearly every day for two weeks, but that sprinklers can only provide a fraction of the moisture that comes with regular spring rain and thunderstorms. That helps to explain why the golf course and other parks in the city were struggling to turn green at the normal rate they would have.
“This will definitely help us green up fast,” Culver said.
But although the rain was just what parks in the city needed to get back on track, it still wasn’t quite enough to make farmers around the state sleep better. Even with 1.14 inches of new moisture, that only brings the yearly total to 2.47 inches. The expected amount of moisture by this time of year is 4.31 inches.
“We’re still in a pretty big hole,” said Al Dutcher, who is the state climatologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “We can use anything, but we still have a long ways to go before the agricultural community will feel good about where things are at. This was enough rain to help temporarily, but not long term.”
Dutcher said that even moisture totals going back to October, which is the number farmers mostly look at when preparing to plant crops, are down 1.92 inches from the average of 6.65.
More warmth needed too
He added that the extreme drop in temperature that led to snow Sunday evening could also cause a few problems. Models estimate that the snow was enough to drop soil temperatures into the upper 30s, and bring the seven-day average soil temp down to about 45 degrees. The ideal soil temperature for corn and similar crops is about 55 degrees, Dutcher said.
Dutcher also said that there’s still a legitimate wild fire concern in many areas outside of Lincoln.
“This was a nice and welcome moisture event, but it’s not eliminating any of the concerns we’ve had,” he said. “It’s still going to be about two weeks before we would have enough growth to eliminate the fire danger, and the rain we got wasn’t significant enough over a broad enough area to really bump up our moisture totals to the point we need to see them.”