Looking ahead to the spring weather forecast, Dennis Todey, director of the Midwest Climate Hub in Iowa, says spring temps may come quicker to some parts of farm country than others.
“Better chances March of above-average temperatures the further east and south you go, and the farther you go into the plains, and the northern plains particularly, the less chance there is of being above average in temperatures. We’re talking about the month as a whole, not an individual event, and it does look like we rebound relatively quickly after the cold outbreak this week. And these are all based on looking at La Niña and also looking at soil moisture at this point.”
Areas with a lot of snow on the ground are likely going to be slower to see a spring warmup than locations with drier ground.
“The outlooks have been talking, and they have been fairly good. Most of the cold was supposed to stay further north, especially up into Canada. We have had some of that cold work its way down into parts of the north-central U.S., but that’s mainly been in the area where we’ve had snow cover. As you get further west in the northern plains, there hasn’t been much snow cover, so they haven’t been that cold up in that area. So, the cold is more focused on the areas where we’ve had some snow.”
Todey says several areas in farm country are still struggling from being too wet or too dry.
“The area of the eastern Corn Belt, central to Eastern Corn Belt, say from Central Illinois and eastward, they have had several large storm events, and the outlooks lean towards the wet side for them. Planting delays possible, prevent plant in places, are definitely on the radar there. Most of the Plains area, central to southern plains, particularly, drought conditions have worsened there. We’ve been dry and warm for the winter. It’s more a concern of can we get some more moisture for them? The eastern Dakotas, parts of northern Minnesota, are going to be a little interesting. They got a little bit wet late in the year, and they get snow up there, so there could be some delays in that area. And then you get the area in between, Missouri, Iowa, kind of a mixed bag right now. In Iowa, we still have some carryover dry soils, and then we get over to parts of Wisconsin, where we’ve got some fairly dry soils there. We have areas that keep missing rainfall in that area. So largely wetter problems East, drier problems West and then some kind of mixed bags in between.”
He says a large area of farm country is still too dry.
“Basically, from Nebraska south in the plains is dry to very dry. Parts of Iowa and Wisconsin are quite dry, in Northern Illinois, and it’s kind of a carryover from last year, and then parts of the Dakotas, depending on where you are and what the situation is. Part of the problem in the Dakotas is they had some moisture in some areas but not enough moisture for runoff for ponds and dugouts from a livestock standpoint. In the Plains area, we’re very concerned at this point because of the dry conditions. Wheat has been showing some of the problems with the drought and some of the wind problems over the winter.