Winter Summary of 2009-2010

An early active pattern developed during mid October which brought a series of three strong weather systems into Western and North Central Nebraska.  This early active weather pattern set the stage for a long winter.  By the end of October, the city of North Platte had measured 4.29 inches of precipitation which fell mostly as snow.  In 2009, the city of North Platte almost doubled the all time record of snowiest October by recording 30.3 inches of snowfall.  The previous record was set in 1969, when 15.7 inches of snow had fallen.  Elsewhere across the region, equally impressive snow reports were noted...especially along the Interstate 80 corridor, where residents along the major highway began wondering why "Old Man Winter" put a target on their backs.  

During the month of November, "Old Man Winter" took a break, or for that matter, some would suggest that he reloaded and waited for the holiday season to begin.  November saw no major storms over the region, with near normal precipitation and temperatures rising to above normal values.  The pleasant weather during the month could be attributed to a persistent ridge over the region, but remember, all good things must end, and boy did it.

The weather during the month of December quickly transitioned to a stormy pattern like was seen during October.  An abnormally strong ridge of high pressure built over the Gulf of Alaska which facilitated a broad trough of low pressure across the central and eastern portion of the United States.  This pattern shift resulted in above normal precipitation and well below normal temperatures region wide.  In Valentine, the average daily temperature was 7.5 degrees below the normal of 23.6 degrees and in North Platte the average daily temperature was 8 degrees below the normal of 25.7 degrees.  December 2009 will go down as the eighth coldest on record in North Platte and ninth coldest for Valentine.  The month of December will also go down as the fifth snowiest winter on record for North Platte, as 12.3 inches of the white stuff fell during the month; this is eight inches above normal for the month.

The New Year brought in warmer and drier conditions to the region.  The persistent arctic air mass that plagued the Plains states during December retreated back into Canada after the first week of the New Year.  The Central Plains states enjoyed a relatively quiet weather pattern for the next three weeks as split flow developed and kept stormy conditions well off to the northeast of the region.  

As February began, the split flow pattern continued and lasted for much of the month.  While the flow pattern was characterized by numerous weather systems crossing south of Nebraska, enough moisture advected northward to bring several instances of light snowfall to the region, especially along and south of the Interstate 80 corridor.  By the time the month of February ended, 12.3 inches of snow had been measured in North Platte, which is 7.5 inches above normal for the month.  Far less moisture fell across northern portions of the region.  In Valentine, just 3.9 inches of snow fell, which is 2.3 inches below normal.

The active split flow pattern remained through the first half of March, but then quickly transitioned to a more zonal pattern over the second half.  The zonal pattern is not as favorable for precipitation over the region.  However, North Platte once again recorded above average precipitation with 2.26 inches of liquid falling from the sky, although, the precipitation fell more so in the form of rain rather than snow.  North Platte measured 3.8 inches of snowfall, but this value is 1.4 inches below average for the month.  The city of Valentine totaled 1.20 inches of precipitation, which is slightly above the normal value of 1.11 inches.

The trend of above active precipitation continued into April, as a nearly permanent weather feature over the Desert Southwest sent pieces of energy which dropped ample precipitation through the region.  This translated to slightly above average temperatures for both Valentine and North Platte as continued cloudiness moderated nightly temperatures.  In Valentine, April precipitation amounted 3.11 inches, which is 1.14 inches above normal.  However, much of this fell as rainfall, with only trace amounts of snow reported.  Nearly the same can be said in North Platte, where 2.97 inches of precipitation fell.  Although the precipitation collected was an inch above normal, only 7 tenths of an inch of snow fell.

During the month of May, snow is certainly possible across Western and North Central Nebraska, just ask the folks in Northern Sheridan County, where four inches of snow fell just last week, however as the day gets longer, the opportunity for snow becomes less and less and hopefully we will be able to close the book on the 2009 - 2010 winter season.  By the time the winter of 2009 - 2010 was over, the city of North Platte will have measured over 60 inches of snowfall, making the 09-10 winter the second snowiest winter of all time.  The city of Valentine did not measure up the snow totals like North Platte did; only 18.6 inches of snow fell for the entire season, marking the 2009 - 2010 winter season just out of the top ten least snowiest winter seasons of all time.

Click  on Map Below to Enlarge

2009 - 2010 Winter Seasonal Snowfall Totals for the North Platte CWA


 Seasonal Snowfall Amount (inches)

North Platte Airport




Anselmo 2SE






Big Springs 4W






Curtis 3NNE


Enders Lake


Ericson 8WNW


Eustis 2NW


Gordon 6N


Hayes Center 1NW


Hershey 5SSE


Imperial Coop


Kingsley Dam




Mason City


Medicine Creek Dam




North Platte EXP Farm


O'Neill Coop


Oshkosh 10 NE




Red Willow Dam


Spencer 5 SSE


Stapleton 5 W






Valentine NWR


Wallace 2 W





NWS Meteorologists Chris Buttler & Shawn Jacobs 
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