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Some Moisture in the Early Spring Farm Country Forecast

A good portion of farm country is missing the typical winter snowpack. John Baranick, an ag meteorologist with DTN, says it’s been a very unusual winter.

Baranick says, “It’s been a really strange winter. It’s been a super warm winter, so anytime we’ve had a chance for precipitation or snow, it might have come for a little bit and then melted. They even got two feet of snow in parts of Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois back in January when we had the polar vortex move through. But that melted off in less than a month, and we just have not had snow cover stick around, and that’s led to the ground being warm enough to just soak all that moisture in. It’s kind of a double-edged sword of good and bad. The soils need it. We didn’t have anywhere across farm country that had good soil moisture at the end of last year.”

The southern states are faring much better in terms of rebuilding soil moisture. He says, “We’ve had an active pattern that’s been good for a lot of the southern tier of the country with building in soil moisture for them. But for us around here up in the Upper Midwest and most of the Corn Belt, a lot of that’s great to have the moisture come through, but now we don’t have the snowpack leftover to melt off slowly and gradually to lead us into the spring season. So, we’re dependent on spring precipitation here to carry us into planting.”

He says satellite pictures of the Pacific Northwest, the Canadian Plains, the Upper Midwest, and the northern Plains States show none of the typical snow cover seen at this time of the year. Brown winters like this one are not unheard of according to Baranick.

He says, “It has happened in the past. I can’t remember exactly if it was 2010 to 2011 or 2011 to 2012, where it just felt like there was no snow around, and it was so warm early on in that spring and late winter where anything we had melted off quickly at least around here in the upper Midwest. And there’s been years in the past here too where we stayed pretty dry with snow. It’s not unheard of, but you know it is a typical feature of what we think of during El Nino, and El Nino has been super strong over the winter. It’s kind of leveled off a little bit this year, and we’ve gone down the other path. We’re seeing that weaken, but this winter was a prototypical El Nino pattern.”

The weather pattern should begin to switch in late March and early April, which will include colder and wetter conditions.

Baranick says, “Oh, yeah. We’re looking at at least one clipper system moving through the Montana through Michigan areas here this Thursday and Friday. This weekend, we’ve got a huge storm system, probably a double barrel-type of system where we get two low-pressure centers moving through, that’ll be moved through the Plains and Mississippi Valley here this weekend and early next week. And we’ve got all kinds of disturbances following that into the end of March and another probably big storm system for early April. To be determined on that one, but things are lining up to produce a lot of precipitation here in the areas that need it.”

Story courtesy of NAFB News Service

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