Farm Country Forecast is Still Short on Precipitation


It’s been a dry winter for the most part in U.S. farm country. A pre-Christmas snowfall turned things white in many areas but did little to alleviate the dry conditions. Ryan Martin is an ag meteorologist who lives in Warsaw, Indiana, and says December was well-below average in terms of moisture.

“All things considered, the precipitation that happened in mid-to-late-December didn’t even get the month of December up to near normal over most of the Upper Midwest, Eastern Corn Belt, Great Lakes, and I’ll even throw parts of the Central Corn Belt in there. Overall, we are still well below normal, and the blanket of snow is uninspiring to me at this point.”

He looks at the forecast for the Upper Midwest and Eastern Corn Belt.

“Temperatures continue to be well-above-normal. By the time we get to January 15-16, we’ll have put enough days in far enough above normal that it’s going to be difficult to see any kind of cold snap bring the entire month back to below-normal levels. Cold air is pooling in Canada, and it’s going to come down. I don’t think the second half of January will look anything like the first but is it enough to say January is going to flip to cold all over for the entire month? No way, it’s not going to happen.”

There will likely be some cold air incursions into early February, but he doesn’t see any extended cold snaps after that. The Central and Southern Plains will continue to see above-normal temperatures more often than not.

“We’re spending many more days above normal than we are below. Our concern in the Plains is this continued dry stretch.  The overall conditions are not lending themselves to seeing any kind rain come through, or even snow for that matter. We did see a nice blanket of snow in parts of Kansas and Oklahoma out of a winter event a couple of weeks back, but the effects of that are gone now. The wheat greened up a little bit, but I see nothing that says we’re looking at a huge surge of moisture at all over the next 2-3 months.”

Things will likely stay dry and warm in the Delta and the Southeastern States.

“We do have a documented La Nina situation going on. We can see that first of all, from the data coming from the Pacific, but you can see the effects happening down in South America. So, I think as you look into the Gulf Coast states like the lower Delta, we’re already trying to talk about planting or at least getting ready for it here in the next six weeks. I think we’re going to be trending a little bit wet and active, but I guess I’m not concerned about any early hurricane events or anything that will cause a long-term issue in the Deep South. If anything, we’re going to be trending slightly drier there as well.”

The western U.S. will stay dry too according to Martin.

“Over the Western U.S., generally speaking, we continue to see below-normal precipitation there, and at this point, I don’t see anything that changes that. The high elevations are not seeing any kind of influx of moisture, so I don’t think that fuels anything. I do believe the West Coast is going to stay dry, and La Nina usually helps to fuel that. I’m not going to put this all on a La Nina forecast, but to me, I don’t see anything that says we’re looking at exceptionally-good conditions over the West.”

Again, Ryan Martin is an ag meteorologist from Indiana.