Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

February 1991


Published in Great Plains Research 1:1 (February 1991), pp. 26–57. Copyright © 1991 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Monthly precipitation data in the Great Plains from the late nineteenth century (1851–1890) were compared with modem analogs. Seasonal precipitation changes were identified since 1858–1877, depending on the amount of data available, and additional droughts were inferred back to 1851. Regional droughts did not clearly fit any cycle. Precipitation during fall and winter was less than 1951–1980 averages during most of the late nineteenth century. Wetter than modern average springs and summers occurred in the mid-1870s to the mid-1880s. Relationships of these conditions to changes in mid-tropospheric circulation are suggested. Results from this study can be used for verification of dendroclimatic reconstructions and assessment of climatic impact on settlement.