The rainy fall is helping the landscape recover from drought — and laying the foundation for improved conditions next spring.
“Right now, you couldn't order a more perfect scenario for getting soil moisture built up,” said Al Dutcher, Nebraska's state climatologist.
Soil moisture is crucial because that's the reservoir of water that keeps plants healthy through winter and gives crops a good start in the spring.
For now, the percentage of Nebraska officially in drought has dropped to 68 percent, the least since late June 2012. A month ago, about 90 percent of the state was in drought.
The Omaha and Lincoln areas, along with all of southeast Nebraska, the southeast Panhandle and far northern Nebraska no longer are in drought, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The rest of the state is in drought, with the worst conditions in the western half of the state.
Area rainfall totals in inches for the past 24 hours as of midnight:
— Norfolk, 2.34.
— Hadar, 2.25.
— Lincoln, .53.
— Eppley Airfield, .88.
— Valley, 1.56.
— Columbus, 2.80.
— Pender, 2.90.
Tuesday, the Omaha area should experience temperatures in the mid-50s, northwest winds of 20 to 35 mph and periods of drizzle, said Scott Dergan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Office in Valley.
Conditions should take a turn for the better Wednesday, with a high temperature in the upper 50s; Thursday, with a high in the 60s; and Friday through Sunday, with highs in the mid- to upper 50s, he said. Friday could bring a slight chance of rain to the south of the Omaha area.
Even before Monday's rain, Omaha was ahead for the month of October, having received 2.59 inches, well above the average of 1.62 inches. Overall, rainfall for autumn is only slightly above average, based upon how the weather service defines the season, which is September through November.
The western edge of Iowa and northeast Iowa have seen conditions improve, too, but, overall, most of the rain has missed Iowa, said Harry Hillaker, the state's climatologist. About 71 percent of Iowa remains in drought, a slight improvement from recent weeks.
Southeast and central Iowa are the areas in greatest drought, according to the drought center.