Ag Weather Forum
Bryce Anderson DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst

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 (2)
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

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

Tuesday 03/25/14

Harsh Midwest Winter Details


Illinois River ice near LaSalle, Ill. (Photo courtesy LaSalle County Emergency Management Agency)

Much of the Midwest experienced the most severe winter in 30 years. Based on preliminary data this was the eighth coldest winter on record for the region. Snowfall ranked in the top five for Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

The winter mean temperature for Embarrass, Minnesota was -5.5 degrees F, with 32 of 91 days recording a minimum temperature of -30 deg F or colder, a Minnesota state record. There were seven days with minimums of -40 deg F and lower.

Snowfall in Detroit, Michigan as of the end of February totaled 79.2 inches, the second highest on record. Average snowfall for this period is 33.9 inches. Detroit measured a record 39.1 inches in January. Chicago totaled 67.4 inches of snow during the winter, the third highest on record.

A storm on January 5--6 led to blizzard warnings in some locations and winter storm warnings over a broad swath of the Midwest. Snowfall amounts ranged to more than a foot in some parts of Indiana and Michigan and more than 6 inches in most of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, northwest Ohio, and southern Michigan.

Agriculture Impact

Subzero temperatures and thin snow cover over the southern portions of the Midwest has likely resulted in some damage to the dormant winter wheat crop.

Transportation Impact

Winter storms hampered travel throughout the winter. Thousands of flights were delayed or canceled due to snow and ice. Train traffic was halted by severe drifting resulting from the winter storms that hit the region. Blowing and drifting snow closed roads and interstates a number of times.

Persistent bitterly cold weather resulted in many rivers becoming choked with ice as much as 30 inches thick. This resulted in restrictions on barge traffic on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.

Environment and Infrastructure Impact

Ice jams on rivers led to flooding in parts of Illinois and Indiana.

Many communities depleted their snow removal budgets due to the persistent cold and frequent snow. Pothole repair is a major concern and expense for many municipalities, both for repair and paying claims for damaged vehicles.

A propane shortage resulted in prices more than doubling from summer levels. Minnesota passed emergency heating assistance legislation to provide financial assistance to homeowners and businesses to pay their heating bills.

Cryoseism, or "frost quakes," were reported over parts of the Midwest toward the end of January and early February.

The frost level at the end of February ranged from about a foot north of the Ohio River to as much as five feet in northern Minnesota. Frozen pipes and water main breaks were common through the Midwest.

Many school districts used their allotment of snow days and then some due to the snow and days with extreme wind chill. Some districts will need to extend their school year to make up the time.

Drought conditions and a deeper than normal frost depth across Missouri are expected to lead to die offs of turtles and perhaps amphibians.


Snow and ice pack in the Mississippi River basin is mostly well above average, particularly from eastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin into northeastern Iowa, where 2 to 4 feet of snowpack is common. However, with streamflows along the Mississippi River at low levels for this time of year, this snowpack should produce only minor flooding along the Mississippi River with average rainfall this spring.

Although snowfall has been much above normal across most of the northern half of the Midwest, the liquid water content of the snow cover has not been significantly above normal. The exception is in northwestern Wisconsin and in northern Illinois where the snow water equivalent of the remaining snow cover is well above normal for this time of year. The chance of flooding is above normal in northern Illinois, northwestern Wisconsin, and southern Michigan due to above normal water content of the snow.

Additionally, significant frost depths of 2 to 3 feet will impede infiltration of water until the ground thaws. The deeply frozen soils will be a factor to watch as snowmelt and rainfall on frozen ground will run off quickly.

However, the likelihood of flooding is going to be greatly dependent on how the spring weather unfolds.

Stream flows in the Ohio River basin are expected to be near normal through the spring.

The full report--and others--are available here:…




Posted at 2:09PM CDT 03/25/14 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (1)
There is almost no snow cover south of MPLS so its gonna have to rain alot to have any flooding.
Posted by Paul Beiser at 1:16PM CDT 03/26/14

Friday 03/21/14

NOAA Flood Outlook Significant

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its spring 2014 flood outlook this week -- and to I'm sure no one's surprise, it calls for a moderate risk in the mid-Mississippi Valley, lower Missouri Valley, Red River Valley of the North, portions of the Great Lakes, and the Black Hills of South Dakota. That's a big chunk of country to have such a forecast.

NOAA's spring flood forecast for moderate flooding in many northern and central areas continues to indicate a slow start to field work. (Image courtesy NOAA)

A conference call that I listened to about the spring forecast for the NOAA Central Region this week highlighted this situation. In fact, Jim Angel, Illinois State Climatologist, suggested that a theme song for the conference call might be a classic jazz hit sung by Ella Fitzgerald that is titled "Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year."

The big reason for this large moderate-level flood risk is, of course, the harsh winter we've seen in the central and eastern U.S. NOAA's description of the situation notes that this winter season "...produced an above normal amount of water in the current snowpack and a deep layer of frozen ground much further south than typical. With significant frozen ground in these areas, the flood risk is highly dependent on the amount of future rainfall and the rate of snowmelt this spring." These factors, along with expected seasonal spring temperatures and rainfall, are the reasons behind the moderate flood risk for southern Wisconsin and southern Michigan, along with portions of Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.

In the lower Missouri basin across much of Missouri, there has been some minor flooding already. The NOAA forecast notes that "flood potential will be driven by individual convective rain storms typical in the spring." I would add that convective rain storms are produced many times by dynamics associated with a cold air-warm air frontal boundary. This is a hint that the cold north (Canadian Prairies-origin chill) may actually set up precipitation events that lead to heavier rains than expected and could up the ante on flooding in the Mississippi and Ohio valley basins as well.

(A big detail here -- NOAA said that the "large quantity of water in this remaining snowpack is highly unusual for this time of year.")

For the Red River valley of the North, along with the Souris River in North Dakota, moderate risk for flooding is due to river ice jam issues along with significant frozen ground. In the Black Hills region of South Dakota, saturated soils comprise the main reason for moderate flood risk. It should be noted that there is limited snow cover in this area.

(By the way -- as of Thursday, March 20, 2014, there was an 80 percent chance of exceeding moderate flooding at Fargo, N.D., and a 45 percent chance of Fargo exceeding major flooding.)

There is also a great deal of interest in what the situation will be for flooding in the upper reaches of the Missouri from Montana into North Dakota. In this area, minor flood potential is indicated, but NOAA also notes that "A potential for exceeding minor flood levels exists for the northern Rockies and northern Great Plains in portions of Montana and Wyoming. Wet soils and high river levels prior to the winter freeze combined with above average mountain snowpack are the drivers for this flood risk. Localized flooding due to ice jams has already occurred, and will remain a threat through the spring thaw."

So, the refrain "Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year" comes back again.


Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 3:42PM CDT 03/21/14 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (2)
Do you think there will be significant flooded acres to affect corn prices.
Posted by WARREN HARDY at 10:08PM CDT 03/23/14
Some but not a rip-roaring rally. In 2013 prevent-plant acreage was around 9.4 million, mostly due to the heavy rains in the northern Corn Belt. Average prevent-plant is I believe around 3.5 million acres. The flood outlook seems to suggest that the more average flooding issue is likely.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 9:49AM CDT 03/24/14

Thursday 03/20/14

Cold Weather Keeps on Coming in Canada

If you were thinking that winter was pretty much done with us, think again. Just as most of us started to get used to temperatures less harsh than those experienced for much of the winter, a renewal of the cold-weather-making weather pattern is upon us.

Snow cover this season compared to a year ago at this time is much less throughout the Prairies region. (Graphic courtesy of Environment Canada)

The seemingly never-ending rotating polar vortex across eastern Canada is beginning to gain some gusto again while the recently weakened western North America ridge starts to build northward. The result will be a new series of arctic high pressure areas extending from northwest Canada southeastward into the Prairies during the next five-day period. Below- to well-below-normal temperatures will again take control of much of the main crop areas of Western Canada.

On a more positive note, the length of daylight now exceeds night, so the ability for severe cold to develop quickly and have long-lasting effects should begin to diminish during the coming weeks. Snow cover still does cover all of Canada, but there are holes within the snow cover now across southwest Saskatchewan and southeastern Alberta.

Snow cover this season compared to a year ago at this time is much less throughout the region. As of March 18, snow depth departures were actually somewhat less than normal from southern Saskatchewan to Alberta, while northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba still were on the plus side of normal. These departures are based upon data averaged out from 1998 through 2012.

As long as we do not go into a snowy weather pattern during the next few weeks, we should not have to deal with a major flood potential, as it appears now for most of the central and western Prairies. However, the jury is still out for Manitoba, since cold weather and potential snow could be a little more aggressive for that province into April.

April weather outlooks continue to point to colder-than-normal temperature threats for northern and eastern portions of the Prairies with southern Alberta possibly the least affected. Precipitation forecasts continue to show mostly normal values for April which should not create a huge snow pack as we saw last year.

Temperatures will continue to be more of the potential delaying factor for the start of spring field work across the region. Colder-than-normal readings will slow down the spring melt, especially across eastern areas. The good part of a slow meltdown is reduced flooding potential while the bad part is a slow start for farmers to get out into the fields.

In the near term, the weather pattern does not favor much precipitation for most areas with only a little light to moderate snow once in a while as reinforcing cold enters the region. There is some chance that as we move into early April that the jet stream may begin to drive some Pacific moisture and storms into southwest Canada and the southern Prairies and then we may see an upswing in precipitation while cold air only slowly relaxes.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 11:03AM CDT 03/20/14 by Doug Webster

Wednesday 03/19/14

Ukraine And South Russia Weather

February weather across west and south Russia and Ukraine featured below normal rainfall for much of the region, but especially for the area from central Ukraine eastward to south Russia. This included areas which received less than 50 percent of normal for the month, and even some less than 25 percent of normal. In addition to the drier than normal weather, we also note above normal Temperatures occurred during February. The winter as a whole has featured below normal precipitation and above normal temperatures across the region. This leaves most areas in need of rain during the spring to ensure favorable soil moisture for winter grain development and the early needs of spring grains, particularly wheat.

As we began the month of March, the warm and dry pattern continued, and most of this area showed little to no snow cover. Reports suggest that the winter grains were breaking dormancy well ahead of normal dates. This area has seen somewhat colder weather and light precipitation during the mid-March period, but probably not enough to ease concerns.

The short range forecast calls for mostly light precipitation from the Black Soils region and Ukraine into the south Russia area during the next 24 to 48 hours. Temperatures will turn somewhat colder during this period. The longer-range forecast charts show upper-level high pressure (a ridge) rebuilding over the area, which will promote a new round of much warmer and drier weather at the end of this week and during the coming weekend.

As we look toward the 6-10 day period, we see some tendency for a high pressure ridge over central and eastern Europe. This will likely force systems to move well north through Scandinavia before dropping southward over western Russia and Ukraine. This likely means a somewhat variable temperature pattern, but with a trend towards above normal temperatures. The rainfall chances would be limited under this type of storm track. The source for moisture for weather systems in Ukraine and south Russia would normally be the Black Sea or the Mediterranean Sea. The far-north track of lows makes it more difficult for significant moisture to be drawn into these systems as they move through.

The warmer pattern in Ukraine and west Russia appears reluctant to change at this point. It will be interesting to see what changes lie ahead during the late spring and early summer period.

Joel Burgio


Posted at 12:37PM CDT 03/19/14 by Joel Burgio

Monday 03/17/14

Increasing Weather Concerns in Midwest, Plains

We have now entered mid-March with no signs of a significant change in the weather pattern that has brought us one of the coldest winters in the Midwest since the late 1970s along with some significant snowfall especially in eastern areas. This has led to a much deeper-than-normal frost level, especially in the western Midwest and Northern Plains where less snow cover allowed the cold weather to penetrate deeper into the ground. The significant snow cover in the eastern Midwest has led to wet fields as it melts, unable to be absorbed as well into the soils due to the frozen ground.

There is no reason for optimism as we look forward over the next few weeks. The blocking patterns that we have talked so much about in Canada and their influence on the weather patterns in the central U.S. in terms of producing cold and unsettled weather appear they will remain well established for the foreseeable future. So the idea of a late start to the planting season across most of the central U.S. appears very likely. However, if these patterns continue into the summer, then growing conditions could be rather favorable for corn and soybeans in the Midwest with no severe heat and mostly adequate soil moisture. However, as we all know, attempting to make long-range forecasts is treacherous at best. From what I can tell, no one accurately forecasted the severe winter that we just experienced.

We appear to be looking at a move in the Pacific toward El Nino conditions at this time. However, whether we actually get to a full-fledged El Nino is still questionable. And even if we do, I do not think it would have a significant impact on Midwest weather patterns during this growing season. Whether the blocking patterns continue in Canada or not are much more important to determining Midwest weather than El Nino.

We still have some significant drought concerns to talk about in western portions of the Southern Plains. As long as we maintain the winter-like characteristics of the pattern, it is unlikely we will see much beneficial precipitation in this area. However, maintaining this pattern deeper into spring and on into summer should allow for some improvement in moisture conditions. Whether it happens soon enough to help the wheat crop is questionable. The other concern with this pattern is that episodes of cold weather could become more of a concern to the developing crop in terms of damaging jointing and heading wheat.

Stay tuned. There will be a lot to talk about in the coming months.



Posted at 1:30PM CDT 03/17/14 by Mike Palmerino
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  • Freeze Threat Details For Wheat
  • Nebraska Spring Moisture Roundup
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  • Caliornia Wildfire Season Looks Bad
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  • About The El Nino Watch
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