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Nebraska endures 2nd driest March on record

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Weather experts say Nebraska and Iowa experienced a near-record dry March this year.

The Omaha World-Herald reports regional and national climatologists and meteorologists announced their findings Thursday during a monthly teleconference. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials said the state had its second-driest March on record, while Iowa had its third-driest March.

Central Nebraska experienced its driest March in 121 years of record-keeping.

Jake Crouch, a climatologist at the National Centers for Environmental Information, says that dry conditions were intensified in March because the central Plains were isolated from moisture as storms moved along the southern portion of the U.S.

He also says that global weather patterns pulled weather systems out of Canada and over the Plains in March. According to Crouch, Canadian air masses do not have as much access to moisture than southerly systems.

Weather experts say dry conditions have contributed to a brisk fire season, a slow start to tornado season and lower headwaters for the Platte and Missouri rivers. However, the National Weather Service expects the two states to get rain this month. National Weather Service officials say the central region of Nebraska is the target for some of the best rainfall in the country.

The National Drought Mitigation Center, housed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, reports that nearly 38 percent of the continental United States is in drought.

“How serious this drought will be is unknown,” Dennis Todey, South Dakota state climatologist said. “We’re likely to see some worsening of drought, and some improvement.”

Even though drought usually brings negative consequences, it has provided better conditions for successful calving and spring planting of small grains such as oats.

© Sheridan County Journal Star 2017