Why it has been so dry in the High Plains

Weather computer model explaining recent dry weather.

The question has been asked by many High Plains residents lately, "Why has it been so dry and windy lately?" In previous years, we looked to the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Mexico and Central America to see if the waters there were warmer than usual (which is called an El Nino) or colder than normal (which is called a La Nina). El Nino brings generally cooler and wetter conditions to the High Plains during the late fall and winter months (the last El Nino occurred in 2009-2010). La Nina brings just the opposite our way with warmer temperatures and drier than normal weather.

With that being said, you might think that we are in the middle of a La Nina winter. Well, that's actually not correct as the waters off the western coast of Mexico and Central America are nearly normal. So, without the influence of an El Nino or La Nina, why has it been so dry and windy? The answer lies in the winds in the mid and upper-levels of the atmosphere which have constantly guided storm system after storm system across the Midwest and Great Lakes region. The "Polar Vortex" of a few weeks ago is a great example of this feature in action. While the northeastern United States have been shivering and being drenched with rain and snow, we have been left high, dry and for the most part, slightly warmer than usual. California, which heavily relies on snowfall and rain during the winter months for the majority of the precipitation for the entire year, is now facing threats of wildfires that they normally don't see until the late summer and fall.

When will this pattern change? Nobody knows for sure. At least for the next few weeks, the overall weather pattern isn't showing any signs of change and we can expect more of the same around here....warm, windy and dry. Until the next rain and snow occurs, please be careful on breezy to windy days with cigarettes being thrown out of car windows and parking on tall, dry grass! The wildfire danger will remain high until we get a good, general rain or snow around here.