Monday, February 4, 2013

No doubt about it, 2012 was a dry year

By Con Marshall

Much of the upper plains is very dry
At least two Dawes County rain gauges measured less than eight inches of precipitation during 2012, making it the second driest year on record.

Del and Aletta Hussey, who live along Chadron Creek about eight miles south of Chadron, said they measured 7.94 inches of precipitation during the past year.  Eldon and Janett Wohlers, who ranch northwest of Crawford, said their gauge showed only 7.50 inches during the year.

According to a U.S. Weather Service report issued in 2007, the driest year on record for Chadron was 2002 with only 5.76 inches of precipitation.  Second on the list was 2006, when only 8.45 inches were received.

The Weather Service said the driest year prior to those years dating back to 1893 was 1963, when 10.55 was reported.

The Husseys measured 14.99 inches in 2006, but they recorded just 11.12 the following year.

Both the Husseys and the Wohlerses said they measured nearly 25 inches in 2011, making it one of the wettest years in history.  However, the spigot began shutting off about midway through 2011, meaning Dawes County and much of the surrounding area is now in its 19th month of severe droughty conditions.

The Husseys also recorded 19.23 inches in 2009 and 20.20 in 2011, giving area producers three outstanding years in a row (except in areas where hail was a part of the precipitation).  They also measured 19.74 inches in 2005.

Old-timers as well as historians remember the 1930s for being especially dry. Weather Service data shows that less than 12 inches were received in Chadron in 1931, 1932, 1934 and 1937.

According to the Weather Service, 1915 is the wettest year on record for Chadron. A total of 31.86 inches fell that year. Next on the list is 1923, when the total was 26.47.  Another exceptionally wet year was 1927, when 25.89 was measured.

Other years when Chadron apparently received more than 20 inches were 1920, 1930, 1982, 1925, 1922, 1942, 1921 and 1947.

Eldon Wohlers said the Squaw Mound east of Crawford where he was living at the time received approximately 36 inches in both 1966 and 1967.

Precipitation amounts according to Del and Aletta Hussey