Ag Weather Forum
Bryce Anderson DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst

Wednesday 04/23/14

NOAA: Warm Streak Continues

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) climate report for March shows that warming continues--with the 349th month in a row that world temperatures either matched or beat the 20th century average. Details on temperatures, precipitation and sea ice are below.--Bryce

(Courtesy NOAA)

Twitter @BAndersonDTN

The globally averaged temperature for March 2014 was the fourth warmest since record keeping began in 1880 according to NOAA scientists. It also marked the 38th consecutive March and 349th consecutive month with a global temperature at or above the 20th century average. The last below-average March temperature was March 1976, and the last below-average temperature for any month was February 1985.

Many areas of the world experienced much-warmer-than-average monthly temperatures, including most of Europe, much of Asia, northern South America, most of the Indian Ocean, part of the eastern North Atlantic, a large swath of the South Atlantic, and large sections of the western and northeastern Pacific Ocean. Record warmth occurred in parts of eastern and northern Europe, sections of the eastern Atlantic Ocean, and parts of the equatorial and northeastern Pacific Ocean. Most of eastern Canada, the northeastern U.S., north central Argentina, part of the central North Atlantic Ocean, and the ocean waters off the southern tip of South America were notably cooler than average. Some areas around the Great Lakes and New England in North America were record cold for March.

Global temperature highlights: March

Following a relatively cool February compared to the 21st century, the combined global average temperature over land and ocean surfaces for March rebounded and was the fourth highest on record at 56.18 deg F (13.41 deg C), or 1.28 deg F (0.71 deg C) above the 20th century average of 54.9 deg F (12.7 deg C).

The average global temperature over land was the fifth highest on record for March at 2.39 deg F (1.33 deg C) above the 20th century average of 40.8 deg F (5.0 deg C).

Some temperature highlights include:

Slovakia observed its warmest March on record, where the nationally averaged temperature for the month exceeded 50 deg F (10 deg C) for the first time since national records began in 1871.

Austria tied with 1989 as the second warmest March since national records began in 1767 at 5.0 deg F (2.8 deg C) above the 1981-2010 average. Only March 1994 was warmer.

Norway's average temperature for March was 6.8 deg F (3.8 deg C) above the 1981-2010 average. This marks the third warmest March since national records began in 1900.

Much of Canada was colder than average during March. Temperatures in Ontario were 5.4-11.7 deg F (3.0-6.5 deg C) below average, with many cities seeing record or near-record cold monthly temperatures.

For the ocean, the March global sea surface temperature was 0.86 deg F (0.48 deg C) above the 20th century average of 60.7 deg F (15.9 deg C), tying with 2004 as the fifth highest for March on record.

Neither El Nino nor La Nina conditions were present across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean during March. According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, there is more than a 50 percent chance that El Nino conditions will develop during the Northern Hemisphere summer or fall 2014.

Polar ice highlights: March

According to NOAA data analyzed by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent for March was the sixth smallest in the 48-year period of record at 14.8 million square miles, which was 0.7 million square miles below the 1981-2010 average of 15.5 million square miles. Eurasian snow cover extent was the fourth smallest on record for March, while the North American snow cover extent was the 16th largest.

On March 21, Arctic sea ice reached its annual maximum extent - 12 days later than average - marking the end of the growth season and the beginning of the melt season. The annual maximum extent was 5.76 million square miles, the fifth smallest on record. The average Arctic sea ice extent for March was 5.70 million square miles, 280,000 square miles (4.7 percent) below the 1981-2010 average of 5.98 million square miles, resulting in the fifth smallest monthly March extent on record according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

On the opposite pole, the Antarctic sea ice extent for March was 2.05 million square miles, 350,000 square miles (20.2 percent) above the 1981-2010 average of 1.70 million square miles. This marked the third largest March Antarctic sea ice extent on record behind 2008 and 2013.

Combining the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice, March global sea ice was 7.75 million square miles, 0.8 percent above the 1981-2010 average.

Precipitation highlights: March

As is typical, monthly precipitation varied greatly across the globe during March. Most of Niger, southwestern Morocco, part of northwestern China, and north central Australia were record dry. The northwestern U.S., parts of central Russia, central India, regions of eastern Europe, and scattered areas of South America and west central Africa were much wetter than average.

The warmth in Norway was accompanied by wet conditions. The country observed its seventh wettest March in its 115-year period of record, with precipitation 160 percent of the monthly average.

Many regions on New Zealand's North Island recorded their third driest March on record, as a large part of the region received less than 50 percent of their average March rainfall. Conversely, Christchurch on the South Island had its wettest March on record.

Global temperature highlights: Year-to-date

The first quarter of 2014 (January-March) was the seventh warmest such period on record, with a combined global land and ocean average surface temperature 1.08 deg F (0.60 deg C) above the 20th century average of 54.1 deg F (12.3 deg C). This is the warmest January-March since 2010 when warm-phase El Nino conditions were present.

The January-March worldwide land surface temperature was 1.71 deg F (0.95 deg C) above the 20th century average, tying with 2005 as the 11th warmest such period on record.

The global ocean surface temperature for the year to date was .85 deg F (.47 deg C) above average, tying with 2002 as the fifth warmest such period on record.

The full report is here:…


Posted at 10:30AM CDT 04/23/14 by Bryce Anderson

Monday 04/21/14

El Nino Update

The Pacific Ocean ENSO (El Nino/Southern Oscillation) barometric feature known as the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) continues to show a neutral scenario. As of April 21, 2014, the SOI reading for the last 30 days was a +2.2; the 90-day number was -2.5; with the daily contribution to the SOI calculation at +3.5. The figures are tallied by the Australia Bureau of Meteorology, and represent the barometer values on the island of Tahiti and Darwin, Australia.

For El Nino to be in effect, the 30-day SOI needs to show a sustained value of -8.0 or lower. However, research done by Iowa State University has an additional parameter, which is that the SOI 90-day value needs to be a -8.0 or lower in order for El Nino-related conditions to make an impact on the Corn Belt.

El Nino development--or the possibility thereof--is being closely watched on both sides of the Pacific. In the U.S., rain and mild temperatures are being eagerly anticipated (I think such a description is valid). In contrast, producers in Australia are concerned that El Nino development would lead to drought conditions and threaten to reduce wheat production in Australia.


Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 5:19PM CDT 04/21/14 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (1)
By now,it looks like a weak one
Posted by Bill Liu at 7:28PM CDT 04/21/14

Friday 04/18/14

Jet Stream Research Called "Holy Grail" in Understanding Climate-Change Impact

OMAHA (DTN) -- The dramatic loss of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean due to rapid Arctic warming has altered the polar-region jet stream and helped to bring on extreme weather events of recent years, including the Midwest drought of 2012, record flooding rains of 2013, and the harsh, cold 2013-2014 winter, according to a climate-change expert at Rutgers University.

Research by Dr. Jennifer Francis, an atmospheric research professor at Rutgers University's Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, links rapid warming in the Arctic to extreme weather events worldwide. (Photo courtesy Rutgers University)

Jennifer Francis, an atmospheric research professor at Rutgers University's Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, said, in the past 30 years, climate change has dramatically altered the Arctic Ocean, with sea ice volume now just one-fourth of what it was in the 1980s.

These ideas were first presented in a 2012 research paper by Francis and Stephen Vavrus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, titled "Evidence Linking Arctic Amplification to Extreme Weather in Mid-Latitudes."

"The Arctic is warming two to three times faster than the mid-latitudes," Francis said. "That difference in warming is the main driver of changes in the jet stream. Our analysis suggested that this was happening."

Francis' research indicates that the rapid rate of warming in the Arctic has reduced the air temperature difference between the far northern latitudes and locations farther south. That reduction in temperature difference, in turn, has slowed down the polar jet stream, creating a polar jet configuration that has large north-to-south waves, with the final result being weather patterns that are "stuck" for longer time periods than in the years before the sharply warmer trend in the far north.

"This winter is a wonderful example" of these extremes, said Francis. "Most of the Northern Hemisphere was much warmer than normal -- Alaska, Scandinavia, the northern Canadian Maritimes. It just so happened that the Midwest and the East (U.S. and Canada) were in the southward dips. But then, look at the winter in 2012, when we had over 3,000 high temperature records. There was a similar pattern, but in a different location."

Francis calls this jet stream re-configuration "Arctic Amplification." When the paper by her and Vavrus was first presented to the American Geophysical Union three years ago, the reaction was, in its own way, extreme. "Someone said that we had found the Holy Grail (of extreme weather); they said 'Why hasn't anyone found this before?' It really opened the door to a new way of thinking," Francis said.

The Arctic Amplification approach to understanding extreme weather has merit, according to Al Dutcher, Nebraska state climatologist. "It certainly goes along with atmospheric theory -- that if the (temperature) differential between the mid-latitudes and the polar region tends to narrow, that it will impact the strength of storm systems if the jet stream relaxes," Dutcher said.

But Dutcher sees the Arctic warming analysis as just part of a broader-scale issue. "The separation of the full impacts of different ocean components is the big question going forward -- understanding the heat content in the oceans and that distribution," he said. "The problem is -- how do oceans distribute that heat and will that modify this atmospheric pattern?"

Francis agrees that scientists have much more to do to understand what fully happens with the trends that are occurring in the Arctic. "It's a noisy climate system that we live in... scientists like to say that we are 95% confident that this pattern is real, but we need 10 more years of real-world evolution to get there," she said.

She has also had some "push-back" regarding her findings. "Most of this has been related to other studies that have not reproduced our analysis ... but nobody is saying that these views are wrong," she said.

As far as a message for farmers, Francis said that the only definite trend she can identify at this time is that more large-scale changes are likely. "We could have a cold winter -- there could be drought -- it depends on where the (jet stream) waves are located in any given year. There are a lot of people working on that," she said.

And, even though the history of this Arctic research on the climate-change-induced jet stream change is still in its nascent phase, Francis is glad to discuss its implications.

"This is a plausible hypothesis. There is evidence that supports it. The impacts are potentially huge. I feel that if I didn't focus on this issue, it would be something that I would regret," she said. "I definitely have stirred the pot."

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

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Posted at 11:39AM CDT 04/18/14 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (18)
Why are planting dates moving later.
Posted by ELDON HAISCH at 4:07PM CDT 04/18/14
Why do I have ice on the dog dish in April?
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 7:17AM CDT 04/19/14
Why do we keep listening to these power hungry money grubbing elitist fools ?
Posted by GORDON KEYES at 9:52PM CDT 04/19/14
Bryce, Predict the weather not push the agenda!!
Posted by Unknown at 9:59PM CDT 04/19/14
I agree that the earth is warming and the climate has been changing since the last ice age. I just don't believe man has very much to do with it. A scientist is supposed to have a theory, collect data ,study data, form a conclusion. These globe warming people have formed their conclusion tried to obtain data to support their conclusion, altered the data when it didn't support their conclusion and continue to receive taxpayer money to further their studies
Posted by FRANK FULWIDER at 9:01AM CDT 04/20/14
What we need is a weather station like Fox News where the weather can be sanitized to fit the corporate agenda. Something like its great the polar ice is melting so now Exxon can drill for more oil! Once the polar bears are extinct more tourism will be available to see the land wasted by tar sands extraction! Large hurricanes make for much more exciting news and heat waves of temperatures over 115 f will make for some really good evening footage and of course the new dust bowls winding over Oklahoma and Kansas will spawn some great literature like the mini-dust bowl did in the 30's. Look at the bright side guys and stop listening to those elitist fools. Bryce you're missing the chance of being the "weather Rush Limbo"!!!!!
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 10:55AM CDT 04/20/14
Thanks for this article, Bryce!!! I'm glad somebody is concerned and studying climate change.
Posted by Jo at 7:04PM CDT 04/20/14
Jay you really should listen to Fox News it is the only place you get both sides of the news. The main stream media will only give you the leftist side of a topic or will ignore or distort it. CBS had one of their top investigative reporter quit because they would kill or water down her report to point it meant nothing. Sharyl Attkinsson the woman had the guts to tell the world just what goes on in most of these supposed news outlets. You change your story to fit their narrative or it is not reported. It is pretty much liberal propaganda.
Posted by GORDON KEYES at 11:14AM CDT 04/21/14
Who says I get my news from CBS? I go to the BBC,, just because Fox says "fair and balanced" you think they are?
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 11:23AM CDT 04/21/14
Jay, I bet you listen to NPR all day long too... I would contest that, why should we be the ones that have to make sacrifices to "Save the Planet", when China and other up and coming societies just make the matter worse. I don't see the point in us spending trilliions of dollars on renewable energy that is unsustainable, so we have to ship our "dirty oil and coal" to China and they are burning it instead of us. Does that make sense to rest of you?? If it does, you better wake up and open your eyes, and start to look at the world how it is, not how you want it to look. That oil and coal that lefties don't want us to burn is getting burned someplace whether you like it or not. That is just how it is and how it is going to be. Now why can't we be taking advantage of that ourselves??
Posted by RJZ Peterson at 1:49PM CDT 04/21/14
The Climate Change deniers sound pretty much like the 15th Century Flat Earth Society advocates. We know how that ended. More bullets please for all you messenger shooters. FYI, a good TV watch is currently the Showtime "Years of Living Dangerously". GOP Governor Schwarzenegger is one of the show's principles. He is examining the effect of climate change on the dramatic increase in wildfires by joining a U.S.Forest Service Hot Shot crew in Montana. The California wildfire season is now a year around phenomenon. He saw this first hand as wildfires ravaged California. He admits he was a skeptic. Not anymore. Whether you agree with his political or environmental views is certainly your privilege. However, the information is based on sound science. and empirical examination. This show is an eye-opener for some of us skeptics.
Posted by T JAMES DAVIS at 1:57PM CDT 04/21/14
What I'm incredulous about is the fact that there actually are people that are so naive, so idealistic, and so gullible to think that there is no big money agenda on the "green" energy side. Big money is behind Big Oil? YA THINK? Wow. The sky is blue too. But when it comes to Algore and other leftist puppet masters, oh no, they are as pure as the driven snow. Once again, you sheep on the left, what it is is the last scene in Animal Farm. If you are lucky, you will someday realize it.
Posted by Brandon Butler at 2:12PM CDT 04/21/14
The climate has always changed, for 4.5 billion years. Probably man has something to do with it but possibly not a lot. One readable history of it can be found in the following book: The Maunder Minimum and the Variable Sun-Earth Connection by Willie Wai-Hock Soon, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Steven H. Yaskell, 2003, reprinted 2007. Extremely interestingly, the sun's just past 11 year magnetic cycle was the biggest dud in over 150 years and the magnitude of the next one is highly unknown. Beliefs might be useful on Sundays, but for political validity, facts are needed.
Posted by H. Clay Daulton at 2:39PM CDT 04/21/14
Volcanoes have much more greenhouse gas than anything else.
Posted by Morris Drummond at 4:58PM CDT 04/21/14
The whole volcano-versus-society subject has been addressed here before--but once again--Volcanoes do NOT generate more greenhouse gas than produced by society. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the world's volcanoes, both on land and undersea, generate about 200 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, while our automotive and industrial activities cause some 24 BILLION tons of CO2 emissions every year worldwide. Despite the arguments to the contrary, the facts speak for themselves: Greenhouse gas emissions from volcanoes comprise less than 1--one--percent of those generated by today's human endeavors.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 5:38PM CDT 04/21/14
You mean somebody finally figured out the SUN might have something to do with climate change ? I am truly impressed ! P.S. don't tell Al GORE he to much fun to watch.
Posted by GORDON KEYES at 5:39PM CDT 04/21/14
Volcanoes do produce tremendous greenhouse gas emissions. Volcanoes are a uncontrollable force of nature. Burning of tropical rainforests are controllable forces of man. The Brazilians have greatly curtailed the burning of their forests and that is a good thing if you are a U.S. soybean grower. If you are an Indonesian palm oil producer, reducing soybean production anywhere is a good thing for their edible oil production in a global economy. If tropical rain forests, in Indonesia, are burned the amount of carbon released into atmosphere from forests that have been carbon sinks since before man has existed is definitely a losing proposition because the palm plantations cannot replace the carbon storage capacity of mother nature. Deforestation by burning the vegetation that is storing carbon releases as much greenhouse gas emissions as all auto and truck emissions in the world per year. People, like us farmers, who proclaim that "sound science" should be the dictum of progress if we are using new and effective chemical can't have it both ways regarding climate change if the facts are "sound science" based. "Sound science" is a good agenda for all us farmers.
Posted by T JAMES DAVIS at 5:55PM CDT 04/21/14
Good grief people! The only thing we can be sure of is that our weather is unpredictable and it is going to change regardless of the bs people try an preach. Mother Nature will have the final say. Let us not forget that no mater how greedy we are or how many acres there is to plant.
Posted by GWL 61 at 7:10PM CDT 04/21/14
Cautious El Nino Timetable

One of the topics discussed during a NOAA webinar on the Midwest and Central Plains drought outlook Thursday the prospect for El Nino during the 2014 crop season. El Nino has been in the news a lot recently, and there have been many comments suggesting that the onset of this feature would be soon enough to bring major drought relief to the Far West, the southwestern Plains, and provide mild conditions for corn pollination in the Corn Belt. That's quite a "to-do" list for an atmospheric event.

But, can all these things be accomplished by a feature that is still months away from fruition? After all, the Pacific equatorial sea surface temperatures are less than a half-degree Celsius above normal. In the same vein, the barometric pressure feature known as the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) is also in a solid "neutral" category; the Friday, April 18 30-day SOI calculation was +0.5, and the 90-day number was -2.1. Those values are well within the "neutral" range. Still, a large pool of very warm water at the sub-surface levels is moving through the eastern Pacific, and is forecast to the be catalyst for an El Nino event to form later this year. That, of course, begs the question of "when"?

South Dakota state climatologist Dr. Dennis Todey discussed that question of "when will El Nino form?" during the NOAA webinar. He suggested that by July and August "...we should see some kind of El Nino signal by that point with some influence on (corn and soybean) yield." If that occurs, Todey looks for the El Nino effect to be one of reducing stress. "Years with El Nino typically have near-normal temperatures," he said.

But, what about this development in relation to the Plains winter wheat crop? Todey was not as optimistic on this question. "I don't think that El Nino will form in time to impact winter wheat," he said. And on a similar note, Todey addressed the harsh drought in California. "I know that in California, there is the hope that El Nino will bring rain for drought alleviation, but I don't see that happening until fall and winter," he said.

Also during the webinar, National Weather Service meteorologist John Eise reminded webinar attendees that, just because the Pacific conditions may attain El Nino thresholds for temperature and barometric pressure, the actual impact in terms of weather could still take time to develop. "There is a lag response by the atmosphere," Eise said. "It takes time for things to adjust and be felt."


Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 6:51AM CDT 04/18/14 by Bryce Anderson

Wednesday 04/16/14

Another Slow Start To Spring

For a second season in a row farmers are likely to get a late start to field work and planting as winter doesn't seem to want to leave town. Continued blocking across Alaska and northwest Canada are allowing late season chill to develop across the still snow covered north. Some of this cold weather will continue to have an impact on the Prairie region delaying the departure of snow cover for eastern and northeastern areas.

A well established snow cover remains for portions of far northern Alberta to northeastern Saskatchewan and for most of Manitoba as of mid April while much of the remainder of the region is now snow free or only is seeing a thin cover from recent snows. The problem is that a cold weather pattern remains in place and is not allowing the winter snow cover to melt very fast. The good news is that flooding isn't imminent for eastern areas but any spring field work potential will be delayed.

This could be a season where eastern areas have a rather late start while areas from southwest Saskatchewan to Alberta fare better in getting the growing season going. Snow and cold have been nearly never-ending across the eastern and northeastern Prairies for many months now while the west and southwest have seen episodes when milder weather have occurred. Snowfall has also been lower for the west.

The trend during the past week has been toward a more pessimistic outlook during the next few weeks as the blocking pattern looks like it may hang on for a while longer generating more chilly temperatures. We also are seeing signs that an increase in storminess later next week could translate into a late season snow event for at least the central and eastern Prairies and could end up encompassing most all areas.

The longer range outlooks for May continue to show a more optimistic theme with near normal precipitation and mostly above normal temperatures forecast for the Prairies but a couple of weeks ago the outlook for the second half of April was looking pretty good as well. This trend lowers the confidence that we will actually move into a nice weather pattern to get the growing season started within a reasonable time frame.

We can always hope that everything will work out like last year when a very late start to the seeding and growing season was followed by a very nice crop. Can we be that lucky 2 years in a row? Only time will tell, but in the near term we should prepare for more delays to springs' start, especially across eastern areas.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 10:10AM CDT 04/16/14 by Doug Webster

Monday 04/14/14

Freeze Threat Details For Wheat

The following table has details on spring freeze damage to winter wheat depending on the wheat stage and temperatures. Widespread freeze warnings are in effect for southern Plains wheat areas through Tuesday morning, April 15.--Bryce

Twitter @BAndersonDTN

Details come from a Kansas State University bulletin, with research by James P. Shroyer, Merrel E. Mikesell, and Gary M. Paulsen.


(Two Hours)

Jointing 24 F (-4 C) Moderate to Severe

As of Sunday April 6, 16 percent of Kansas wheat and 52 percent of Oklahoma wheat were in the joint stage.

Boot 28 F (-2 C) Moderate to Severe

Heading 30 F (-1 C) Severe

As of Sunday April 6, 9 percent of Texas wheat was in the heading stage.

Flowering 30 F (-1 C) Severe

Milk 28 F (-2 C) Moderate to Severe

Dough 28 F (-2 C) Slight to Moderate


Posted at 10:08AM CDT 04/14/14 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (3)
Why are we even talking about cold freeze to wheat. Climate change scientists have been predicting for over 15 years that we are supposed to be drying, up heating up and blowing away due to planet warming. Yet here in S.C. Minnesota we have just endured the coldest winter in 78 years. Many of us have 4' snow banks in our rural windbreaks that just won't melt. This appears to be the second Spring in a row that we won't be able to plant timely due to (oh my gosh) climate cooling. Is it time for climate science to admit that all this climate change hype is nothing more than admitting that the earth's climate varies based upon cycles with short term cycle being about 18 years apart. I firmly believe that the northern corn belt is now back to a normal planting phase of May 3rd to may 15th like it was wen my Dad farmed(30 years ago) . Mid-April planting was an aberration due to cycle variation. Still, we found out last year that planting a lot of corn mid May still can get us record crops. Grain traders; be ware.
Posted by MARK & LEA NOWAK at 2:13PM CDT 04/14/14
Winter wheat here in Michigan,Ohio and Indiana looks to have severe winter kill. Lots of dead and bare patches,we will spray some and plant something else.
Posted by Raymond Simpkins at 9:26AM CDT 04/15/14
Amazing how many readers of DTN beleive that the unusually cold winter in the Midwest and Northeastern US is proof that climate change is a hoax,,,, the rest of the world must not matter because,,,, well its just not in their world which is all that matters. So as Mark states the cycle has changed back to planting dates in May,,,,, guess herbicides, seed treatments and other "modern" farming practices had nothing to do with earlier planting dates? So turn your Rush/Hanity radio up louder guys, there is more scientific reality to drown out coming our way!!!!!!
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 6:48AM CDT 04/17/14

Friday 04/11/14

Nebraska Spring Moisture Roundup

Following is a listing of the state of affairs for river-system irrigation supplies and soil moisture in Nebraska so far this spring. This summary is provided by the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and features comments by Nebraska state climatologist Al Dutcher.--Bryce

Twitter @BAndersonDTN

LINCOLN, Neb. — The state climatologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says planting delays should not be a concern and that temperatures should be on the upswing across the state.

While soil temperatures are still below normal for planting, that problem can be solved if there are persistent 60-degree-and-above-high days so producers can plant without worrying about the viability of their seed, said Al Dutcher, state climatologist.

A cold winter has put the state about two to three weeks behind normal, Dutcher said.

Temperatures for the entire state of Nebraska were 1.8 degrees below normal this winter, the 27th coldest since records began in 1896, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Individual locations across eastern Nebraska averaged more than 3 degrees below normal. In addition, precipitation came in at .70 below normal, the 18th driest winter since 1896.

The latest snowpack information from the Natural Resources Conservation Service as of April 1 shows:

– The South Platte River Basin snow water equivalent – amount of water in snow pack – is 133 percent of normal.

– The northern branch of Platte River, north of Seminole Reservoir in Wyoming, is at 140 percent snow water equivalent.

– South Central Wyoming, the basin that would impact Pathfinder and Alvoca, is at 125 percent snow water equivalent.

– The Laramie Basin, which is important to Scottsbluff area irrigators, is at 139 percent snow water equivalent.

– The Sweet Water Basin, in the western extension of the Platte River Basin, is at 114 percent snow water equivalent, while the Casper Drainage Basin is at 129 percent snow water equivalent.

"With these equivalents and normal moisture for the remainder of April, it should result in above normal stream flow rates through mid-summer," Dutcher said. "We also can expect a great component of runoff this year – 85 to 90 percent of that snowpack will become a runoff component.

"So, my suspicion right now is if we get normal precipitation, we'll be looking at runoff in the 125 to 130 percent range of normal, which would be a significant improvement over the past two spring seasons."

However, it most likely will not completely refill northern Platte River Basin reservoirs, he said. In addition, the longer the snowpack stays around, the better likelihood it will hold excessive heat from building into the Central Rockies and should help supplement Front Range thunderstorm development, at least for the first part of the growing season.

The primary focus this winter has been the battle between a strong upper air ridge situated over the southwestern U.S. and a deep trough over the eastern half of the country. The resultant upper air ridge has led to the development of extreme to exceptional drought over most of California, Dutcher said. Further east, heavy moisture has persisted over the eastern Corn Belt since last October.

"We have seen that ridge weaken in response to above-normal sea surface temps developing in the Gulf of Alaska," Dutcher said. "More importantly, a more active precipitation pattern has shown signs of developing across the central and northern High Plains region. Unless an extended dry pattern develops, significant planting delay issues for the upper Great Lakes and Ohio River valley regions are likely."

While there was significant moisture this past fall across eastern Nebraska, an exceptionally dry December-March eliminated those surpluses, and the U.S. Drought Monitor is showing moderate drought conditions have developed with exception of northeast Nebraska, he said.

This is mainly due to lack of snow and its influence on stock ponds, stream flows and water tables.

Spring crops and native vegetation will begin to extract moisture out of the soil profile during the next couple of weeks, making it critically important that moisture events bring at least normal precipitation so sub-soil moisture reserves continue to build during the summer growing season, Dutcher said.

"Typically this time of year average weekly precipitation exceeds water use by vegetation, but in about six weeks, actively growing crops normally begin to extract more moisture out of the soil profile than is replaced by precipitation events.

"If nothing changes, and the persistent eastern U.S. upper air trough remains a player going into growing season, we would expect to see the development of thunderstorms, higher humidity and isolated tornado development as cold fronts sweep southeastward from the southern Prairie province region of Canada. If this pattern doesn't hold, we would see more energy come into the western United States, and those systems would point to more wide spread thunderstorm outbreaks as storm systems move into the southern and central High Plains region," Dutcher said.

So far Nebraska has been in a holding pattern and hasn't been able to keep temperatures in the 70-degree range for more than a couple of days at a time.

It is critical that temperatures begin to stay persistently higher to get dew points to rise, soil temperatures to rise and plants start to grow.

"This is why we haven't seen a big dormancy break with warmer temperatures," Dutcher said. "Right now everything is so cold that everything is delayed. There is moisture underneath the surface, it just hasn't warmed up enough to promote active growth."


Posted at 3:40PM CDT 04/11/14 by Bryce Anderson

Thursday 04/10/14

Delayed Start For Spring Field Work

Warm weather was welcomed across the Canadian Prairies earlier this week but as fast as the warmth arrived it is leaving town. A return of colder than normal temperatures for most of the region appears to be the likely scenario as we move into the weekend through most of next week.

The reasons for the colder temperature outlook is due to an amplifying upper level trough across western to central Canada during the next several days allowing for another cold high pressure area to move from northwest to west-central Canada. This is a pattern that has repeated itself numerous times during the past 6 months.

While signs of spring weather are definitely showing up across North America, winter seems to want to throw one more curve ball at us allowing cold weather and even some snow to disrupt the start of spring. The cold weather pattern does not appear to be a long-lasting one with most signs showing a return of at least seasonable temperatures after about a week of chill.

Spring field work start is most definitely going to be delayed for most areas with still a pretty deep snow cover from northeast Alberta to the northeast half of Saskatchewan and for much of Manitoba. Snow cover has pretty much disappeared from central and southern Alberta and through the southwest half of Saskatchewan. We still remain in better shape at this date this year than we were a year ago when severe cold and snow were commonplace through the end of April.

We may see some snow early this weekend as the colder weather slides south into the region but most areas should see light to moderate amounts, including areas that are now snow free. The good news is that the precipitation prospects for the remainder of the month do not look heavy and temperatures should warm back to at least seasonable levels for the last third of April.

Similar to what we have seen during much of the winter Manitoba may have more of a difficult time warming up and getting rid of the snow cover still in place while Alberta and southern Saskatchewan may see better conditions develop more quickly for some spring field work during the coming weeks.

For now it appears most areas will see weather continue to delay the start of spring field work. Flooding potential will remain greatest from the northern half of Saskatchewan to Manitoba where snow water equivalent is highest. The slower warming through these same areas could help slow down the spring melt easing some of the flood potential. On a good note, most of the snow cover is gone across North Dakota, except far northeast parts of the state, so the flood threat from that region looks to be minimal.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 10:09AM CDT 04/10/14 by Doug Webster

Tuesday 04/08/14

El Nino Forecast Unsettled

Omaha (DTN) – The prospect of the Pacific Ocean entering an El Nino phase during this coming summer has garnered much attention in the past few weeks. El Nino describes the state of affairs when equator-region Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures reach sustained levels of one degree or more Celsius (two degrees Fahrenheit) above average, and are accompanied by a barometer feature called the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) posting which has a consistent value of -8.0 or lower.

El Nino typically develops during the November-December time frame. But recent Pacific Ocean trends suggest that an El Nino could form by as early as mid-July. "There is a monster plume of warm sub-surface (Pacific) water moving eastward over the past several weeks," said South Dakota state climatologist Dennis Todey. "This plume is being closely watched to see if that's the kicker to get us into El Nino this summer."

El Nino prospects are being closely watched because several research projects have concluded that, in the U.S., growing seasons featuring El Nino at least favor trendline corn yields. "El Nino summers are generally 'non-bad' growing years," said Todey. In his view, there is a sixty percent chance that El Nino will start "soon enough" to have an impact this growing season. "I am leaning toward a 60/40 probability of a little cooler temperature pattern across the Corn Belt," he said. "Also, I'm leaning to precipitation being non-dry, with maybe near average to slightly above average precipitation."

Such a scenario is favorable for corn production. "If it (El Nino) does happen by July, it would be milder for temperatures and pollination," Todey said.

The U.S. Climate Prediction Center's Pacific Ocean analysis agrees with Todey's assessment. The Climate Prediction Center (CPC) issued an El Nino Watch for the Pacific in early March, calling for a possible El Nino "...during the summer or fall."

In the event of El Nino, DTN analyst Todd Hultman looks for prices during the summer to trend lower. "If El Nino does develop in July...2014 will likely be another favorable year for corn and soybean production, bearish to prices," Hultman said.

However, talk about El Nino development is for a time period that is several months out. Such discussion, to DTN senior ag meteorologist Mike Palmerino, is quite speculative.

"I think it's irrelevant (El Nino) to be quite honest in terms of the growing season in the U.S. this summer. I don't think it's much of a factor whether it develops or not," Palmerino said. "Most of the calls for development are strictly model calls; they are not made in the reality of the situation right now."

To Palmerino, the big driver of U.S. crop weather fortunes is still what does or does not happen in the higher latitudes of North America during the growing season of 2014.

"I think it's going to boil down to--the character of the patterns in the U.S. are going to be dictated by how much blocking's (high pressure) going on in the northern latitudes--how cold Canada stays--and--that's really what we're going to be watching," Palmerino said.


Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 9:53AM CDT 04/08/14 by Bryce Anderson

Friday 04/04/14

Late Start To Corn Belt Spring

For much of the northern and eastern Corn Belt, the spring 2014 weather pattern looks like a repeat of 2013, with wet and cool conditions hindering planting progress. This scenario is no surprise, after the way the 2013-14 winter season shaped up. The entire central U.S. had below-average temperatures for the December-January-February time frame used for weather records; all traditional Midwest states except Ohio and Kentucky recorded "top 10" coldest winters. And on the precipitation side, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio recorded above average amounts. March has been drier, but the cold remains; Midwest Climate Center analysis shows the region's mean temperatures in March were from five to fifteen degrees Fahrenheit below average.

The long-lasting staying power of this cold pattern is impressive, and it's a feature that DTN senior ag meteorologist Mike Palmerino believes has gone past the point of being a minor issue regarding corn planting delays.

"I think there's good reason to be concerned," Palmerino said. "It was incredibly persistent through the winter, in terms of just day after day of cold and very little break in the cold. We're probably going to get into April in a similar fashion."

A major driver of the Midwest delayed-planting prospect is the fact that colder-than-average temperatures dominated much of Canada during the past winter. That colder air from the north helped to both establish and reinforce the big chill in the Midwest; and its presence may also boost a wet-weather scenario during early April.

"You're likely going to start mixing up the air masses a little more; it's likely going to start to turn wetter as you get more of a clash of air masses right through the heart of the Midwest," said Palmerino. "So, you may lose a little of the cold impact, but then you may start to be impacted by more moisture."

These delays are starting to make their way into at least some producer decision-making. DTN contributing analyst Joel Karlin noted in a blog item that the cold winter and early spring makes the Illinois corn planting rate for 2014 prospect average "at best". In reviewing the six years in recent history when the amount of corn planted in Illinois was less than ten percent by April 30, "final planted area was lower in all but one of the six years from what Illinois farmers intended to plant ranging from unchanged to down 700,000 acres with an average decline of 283,000 acres," Karlin noted.

And, farther north, DTN cash grains analyst Mary Kennedy said corn acreage reduction due to weather is probably well underway. "I heard this from an elevator near Casselton, ND: 'I would say north of Highway #2 there will be more. Lots of Prevented Planting last year and still corn in the fields.'" (The area described is northeastern North Dakota.)

Markets are starting to pay attention to this circumstance, especially with the calendar now in April and no sign of widespread corn planting in the major production areas.

"Weather is the key factor now," said DTN senior analyst Darin Newsom. "If April doesn’t cooperate, pushing planting back further, we could see corn acres dip to near 90 million. That might result in a much tighter 2014-2015 ending stocks projections."


Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 3:15PM CDT 04/04/14 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (2)
good luck all
Posted by Mark Knobloch at 8:53PM CDT 04/04/14
Last year, 40% of the nations corn crop was planted between May 10 and May 18th. And what kind of corn crop did we get? Oh let's see. A record sized crop they say. Well that's interesting. A little early to get too hung about early April weather. Moisture is mostly good in 85% of the corn belt and so once we get planted; another record crop is possible. We all need to get equipped with 10 mph planters and we can get the crop planted in 3 days. I'm shooting for 240 bu/acre on last years prevent plant field that I still call my radish patch. Many farmers were hoping for $5 Dec '14 corn futures. We've got it now and so how many are selling? The weather market season has now officially begun. Stay tuned and pay attention.
Posted by MARK & LEA NOWAK at 6:31AM CDT 04/05/14

Thursday 04/03/14

Higher Temperatures Arrive Next Week in Western Canada

Higher temperatures are not far down the road for Western Canada as the seasons continue to shift to more of a spring pattern. The main polar jet stream that has delivered shots of cold to the Prairies since mid-winter is now taking on more of a west-to-east motion.

This flow pattern allows for Pacific air to make it up and over the Rockies producing downslope winds across the Prairies. Chilly weather during the next two or three days will be replaced by rapidly higher readings during the early and mid-week period of next week, up to the 15 to 20 Celsius degree range for western and central areas and to near 15 C for Manitoba.

With a fairly deep snow cover still in place across Manitoba and central and northern Saskatchewan, the warming pattern will be not so strong. Snow depths across southern Alberta and southern Saskatchewan are low at this time and we will probably see bare ground appear for these areas next week while the spring meltdown starts in earnest elsewhere. Snow cover and snow water equivalent within the snow is not nearly as high as last year, thus the flood threat should not be extreme, especially with a forecast of only a little spotty light precipitation or nothing during the next week.

This will allow some early fieldwork quite soon for southern and southwestern areas but overall a delay in the start of spring fieldwork is probably the rule for most. The outlook for the remainder of April is not a bad one with most signals pointing toward near- to above-normal temperatures and a little less-than-normal precipitation. If this forecast works out, we should see an earlier start to spring fieldwork and planting than last year.

While the warming weather outlook is in place, we still should expect a shot or two of chilly weather once in a while and a late-season snowfall would not be surprising, but the overall pattern is shifting into one with more mild weather and drier conditions than one with snow and cold.

The snow cover and frozen ground across the region should be on a definite decline during the next few weeks as the sun angle gets higher in the sky. The anomalous cold areal coverage across Canada is now on the decline and should continue to do so during the coming week or two with most of the serious chilly weather moving to northern and northeastern parts of the nation closer to the polar vortex.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 10:54AM CDT 04/03/14 by Doug Webster

Wednesday 04/02/14

Caliornia Wildfire Season Looks Bad

The following summary, compiled by Bobby Magill of Climate Central, has details of what appears to be a widely variable season for wildfires in 2014. But California is in for a busy season.--Bryce

Twitter @BAndersonDTN

Where there is drought in the West, major wildfires are sure to ignite. 2014, just like last year, promises to be another year of destructive wildland blazes in the states where drought has hit the hardest over the last several years: California, Arizona and New Mexico.

The rest of the country, however, can expect a nearly-normal or below normal fire season ahead.

That’s the gist of the National Interagency Fire Center’s April 1 nationwide wildfire forecast update, which delivers plenty of good news for much of the U.S. as it shows how snowpack and weather trends are affecting the wildfire season through July.

Though the wildfire forecast has much to say about how combustible the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Southwest will be through the summer, it paints a picture of a possible reprieve from conditions that burned hundreds of thousands of acres across the Rocky Mountains in 2012 and 2013.

So let’s begin with the good news: Colorado, which lost more than 1,000 homes in the Waldo Canyon and High Park fires of 2012 and the Black Forest Fire of 2013, is likely to get a break this year from the conditions that fueled those fires. Wildfire conditions are expected to be normal throughout most of Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, with below normal fire conditions expected in western Montana and northern Idaho in June and July.

“As the spring progresses, we’re expecting greenup conditions to curb that fire potential,” said Tim Mathewson, a wildfire meteorologist for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Lakewood, Colo.

With snowpack 114 percent of normal in Colorado and the Rockies headed into their wettest months of the year, wildfire conditions in Colorado, Wyoming and the Black Hills are expected to be much less severe between now and July than in 2012 and 2013, he said.

More good news: Recent wet conditions will mean the likelihood of wildfires in most eastern states will be either normal or below normal.

From there, however, the good news in the latest wildfire forecast is a bit more subdued. The rest of April in Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas, will likely bring a high wildfire potential that is expected to diminish in May. Michigan and eastern Wisconsin could see an elevated wildfire risk in June and July, according to the forecast.

Meteorologists expect an El Nino to develop in the Pacific Ocean during the summer, possibly bringing cooler, wetter weather to much of the West, but it adds a measure of uncertainty into the wildfire forecast for the Southwest.

Here’s a breakdown of where you’re likely to see the worst wildfires burn and why:

Arizona and New Mexico

A normal wildfire threat is expected to quickly become significant in May, with the desert Southwest expected to be a tinderbox by June. Delayed by recent rain and snow, the fire season is expected to amp up quickly as the region dries out later in the spring.

But there’s a lot of uncertainty about how dry and warm the summer will become and how severe the resulting wildfire season will be in Arizona and New Mexico because of the uncertainty about if and when an El Niño may form. The wildfire forecast says that if an El Niño develops in April or May, the Southwest could see a cool, wet summer, moderating the fire season.


Up to 8 inches of rain fell in parts of Southern California in late February, with more rain in March, including up to an inch in some places over the last several days. But the rain just hasn’t been enough to sully the upcoming wildfire season, said U.S. Forest Service meteorologist Tom Rolinski, who works for the National Interagency Coordination Center Predictive Services in Riverside, Calif.

“Things are going to dry out fast,” he said. “So, the fuels are going to dry out pretty quickly once we get into a little warmer, drier pattern. I think we’re pretty much on target for seeing increased wildfire activity across the region through July.”

With nearly three years of drought, much of it still considered exceptional throughout California, everyone was expecting 2014 to be a wild wildfire season across the state. With all the rain since February, the only thing about that wildfire forecast that has changed is the timing of the start of the wildfire season, Rolinski said.

“We’re trying to refine a little bit of where we think the major focus of our fire activity is going to be this summer, and a little bit around the monsoon and what kind of lightning activity we’re going to have across the mountain and desert areas this summer.”

The Southwest's monsoon rainy season, which usually reaches the region by early July, brings afternoon electrical storms to much of the region in the summer and delivers much of the region's average annual rainfall.

Northern California won’t see catastrophic wildfire conditions for the next few weeks, either, but with many areas of the Sierra Nevada mountain range still seeing a fraction of the normal snowpack, above-normal wildfire conditions are expected there come summertime, too.

The Great Basin and Eastern Sierra Nevada

Just as in neighboring California, recent storms have done little to douse the drought in Nevada. With snowpack well below normal in most of the Great Basin, the wildfire threat is likely to increase by early summer as dry, warm weather sets in.

“This year, we’re still looking at severe to exceptional drought conditions, a third year of drought stress,” said Gina McGuire, BLM wildfire meteorologist for the Western Great Basin Coordination Center Predictive Services Unit in Reno, Nev.

She said much of Nevada and the western Sierra Nevada mountains are unlikely to see their wildfire season start earlier than the normal late June, early July timeframe, but dry conditions are likely to bring low-elevation wildfires early in the season, then the major forest fires in the mountains later on.


Posted at 3:00PM CDT 04/02/14 by Bryce Anderson

Tuesday 04/01/14

Dakotas Spring Blizzard And Livestock

Following is a summary of how the March 31, 2014 blizzard likely affected cow/calf ranchers in North Dakota and South Dakota. The information was provided by Silvia Christen of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association in reply to an e-mail query from DTN's Elaine Shein:

" Of course spring blizzards are a blessing and a concern here on the prairie. A lot of important moisture comes in these spring storms. That’s moisture does a lot to keep dams full and get the grass growing in the spring to keep pastures going throughout the summer. However, calving is in full swing and some lambing is beginning and this kind of weather is tough on new born livestock.

Different than our October blizzard, the livestock are acclimated to this weather now. They have full hide and fur on to protect them from the cold weather that we’ve already been through. And most of the livestock are in pastures with much more protection or even near barns and wind breaks than they were in October. Ranchers took a lot of precaution to get extra hay and feed to the animals ahead of the storm, and the herds that are calving are likely being checked really regularly right now.

The biggest concern is the ability of a mother cow to have the calf successfully with the added stress of the weather, and then we have to make sure that calf doesn’t just hunker down and sleep. They need to get up right away, get some milk in their bellies and get the mother to bed them down well on some hay or in a barn. Most ranchers are checking at least hourly on those new calves and lambs throughout the storm. Calves that are already a few days or weeks old are going to be much more able to handle the conditions since they can rely on their mother's milk to keep them warm and fed.

Long term, this storm is bad timing and it’s a big storm but I’m confident that our ranchers have done everything they can to make sure they’ve protected their livestock and I think we’re probably going to get through this storm without too many hiccups."


Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 1:49PM CDT 04/01/14 by Bryce Anderson

Monday 03/31/14

Model Uncertainty Re SW Plains

Wheat growers, livestock producers and traders are all paying close attention to what happens in the southwestern Plains region this week. This entire region is assessed at Drought Level Two through Four (Severe to Exceptional) in the latest Drought Monitor. And, with wheat exiting dormancy and going into its final growth and reproductive stages, moisture is definitely needed.

But, rain chances continue to be mostly elusive. And, forecast models cannot even agree with themselves on what's going to happen.

Case in point: Back on Friday March 28, the midday run of the U.S. forecast model brought a cutoff low pressure system into eastern New Mexico effective Thursday, April 3rd. (Cutoff lows are much-desired in the southwestern Plains; these systems, by virtue of being out of the main jet stream flow, tend to drag Gulf of Mexico moisture northwest into the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles, southeastern Colorado, and southwestern Kansas, and thus increase the likelihood of precipitation development.) The European forecast model, by the way, did not show such a feature.

However, as we look at the forecast model depictions today (Monday March 31), there is a completely different set of features. The U.S. model does NOT have that cutoff low for this Thursday, nor for any time frame during the next ten days. However, the Euro model DOES show this development (cutoff low), but again in the 7-day time frame, for Sunday April 6.

So, you have forecast model switching regarding upper-air features, but the time frame stays the same--out in the 7-day time frame. This disagreement of models with themselves--but always showing a particular feature "out there"--is not a forecast to show high confidence in.

The bottom line is--our view is that the dry southwestern Plains trend is likely to continue, with a forecast change requiring both model agreement and consistent closer-to-time depiction of weather systems.


Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 10:21AM CDT 03/31/14 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (7)
Just for some additional reference--Amarillo, TX has .59 inches precipitation since Jan 1, down 2.08 inches from average. A year ago, Amarillo had received 3.44 inches precipitation. Dodge City, KS year to date has 1.11 inches precip, down 1.74 inches from average. A year ago, the Dodge City precip total year to date was 1.64 inches.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 10:50AM CDT 03/31/14
Thank you for paying attention to our intensifying drought. Chrissy Scotten of the National Weather Bureau of Amarillo reported today on our local radio station that the past 42 months(3.5 years) is the driest in recorded history for our area. Drier than any 42 month period during the Dust Bowl of the 30s or the drought of the 50s. We are thankful for more no-till, but another year of this and we may have rangeland blowing in addition to cropland, no-till or not!
Posted by JANET TREGELLAS at 1:47PM CDT 03/31/14
Which model has a greater % of being accurate? Surely there is a statistician that keeps track of which one is more consistent.
Posted by Mr. Brandy at 2:11PM CDT 03/31/14
Janet--good to hear from you and I appreciate that detail. I knew that this drought was in the same league as the Dust Bowl and the 1950s event but I didn't realize that it had surpassed those droughts to this extent. Thank you for sending that in. I think that the drought is getting more visibility.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 3:13PM CDT 03/31/14
Mr. Brandy--I do not know of any study on the track record of the forecast models. The transition between seasons--especially coming out of winter--is a challenging time for these productions. Our view--and other forecast shops as well--is that in a set pattern like we have seen, unless and until there is a definite change, we will stick with the trend. As I noted in the blog, the fact that a change is always presented at the edge of the forecast time frame, and thus far has not been brought forward, is a feature that makes us suspicious as to the authenticity of that depiction.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 3:17PM CDT 03/31/14
I don't know what to make of our high tech weather forecasting, weather was calling we could get 10'' of snow with big spring blizzard, I don't think we got 1/2 '' of snow. Called school off when sun was shinning. The media anymore reports information without facts, all it does is breeds fear and hype into everything. Another example , those poor family members of the lost 777, having to listen to the medias BS as to what happened to plane and not one shred of proof or evidence as to what happened to it . The media instills fear into markets , peoples lives, its a controlling sector of our lives anymore, which is sad I think.
Posted by GWL 61 at 10:15AM CDT 04/01/14
Hey GWL,you can always turn off Fox News!
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 11:52AM CDT 04/02/14

Thursday 03/27/14

Cold Pattern Starts To Diminish

The weather forecast for the Canadian Prairies is beginning to take on a little more of an optimistic route as March rolls on into early April. The most recent surge of very cold weather for most areas should fade as we move into next week and precipitation prospects are on the light side of normal for most areas.

Cold air continues to be made across Canada as of late March, but one important factor will begin to affect the process that creates cold weather as we move deeper into spring. That factor is the sun. The sun is getting higher in the sky and stronger each day and will eat away at the arctic air. Snow cover will continue to recede northward and allow the increasing area of bare ground to absorb the solar heat.

The most recent snow cover charts for Western Canada continue to show some bare ground from southern Saskatchewan to southern Alberta with snow depths diminishing elsewhere from last week. Only central and northern Manitoba and northeast Saskatchewan have more snow cover than normal for this time of the year.

The snow cover picture is quite different from one year ago when snow was still very deep and the forecast was for more snow. This time around we see a drier weather pattern and a temperature pattern that should allow for more reasonable readings during the next few weeks.

This outlook should allow for a more normal transition into spring fieldwork for farmers during the next few weeks, but we all know that a bump or two in the road should be expected along the way. A mid-April snowstorm and a burst of cold weather is not unheard of across this part of the world and can't be ruled out.

The expected weather pattern during the next 10 days will see a mostly split jet stream flow pattern across North America. The polar vortex across eastern Canada will weaken some and ease to northeastern Canada while the main polar jet stream shifts into a mostly west to east fashion across southern Canada. An increasingly active southern jet stream will cross the U.S. and should keep most of any significant precipitation makers to the south of the Prairies for now.

Milder weather will start to take over across Western Canada next week as jet stream flow becomes more westerly allowing for some downslope winds from the Rockies. This improvement in the temperature department will allow the existing snow cover to slowly meltdown and should prevent any serious flooding threats through at least early to mid-April.

Milder weather and decreasing snow cover without lots of forthcoming precipitation should allow for some early fieldwork in some areas within the next few weeks, quite a bit earlier than last year. The only fly in the ointment that could flare up down the road is if it remains on the dry side of normal. We will need some moisture at times to maintain reasonable soil moisture conditions for spring planting later on and we may need to keep an eye on this as the weeks move along.

The computer-generated monthly outlook for April that is created daily shows some change since last weeks' blog. Temperature forecasts are now indicating milder-than-normal weather readings for the western Prairies with only Manitoba on the cool side of normal next month. Precipitation forecasts have trended to the drier side of normal after last week's outlook of a little more moisture than normal for most.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 10:44AM CDT 03/27/14 by Doug Webster
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  • NOAA: Warm Streak Continues
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  • Cautious El Nino Timetable
  • Another Slow Start To Spring
  • Freeze Threat Details For Wheat
  • Nebraska Spring Moisture Roundup
  • Delayed Start For Spring Field Work
  • El Nino Forecast Unsettled
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  • Higher Temperatures Arrive Next Week in Western Canada
  • Caliornia Wildfire Season Looks Bad
  • Dakotas Spring Blizzard And Livestock
  • Model Uncertainty Re SW Plains
  • Cold Pattern Starts To Diminish
  • Harsh Midwest Winter Details
  • NOAA Flood Outlook Significant
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