Be wary when meteorologists refer to the weather as “interesting” – it’s usually a euphemism for “chaos.” But that’s how weather experts have been referring to 2015 to date.
“It’s been an interesting ride so far,” says Allendale meteorologist Ryan Martin.
It’s been a winter to remember in many areas, plus a colder, wetter spring than normal that has led to some farmer discomfort, but with the calendar turning over to May, most of farm country is finally ready for planting season.
Martin has been paying attention to how various forecasting models could affect farmers this summer. One event in particular is a jetstream trough near the coast of California, that if cut off completely, could deliver a substantial batch of moisture across the country toward the end of May.
“If it did this, it would be very, very slow, so it would take its own sweet time, but once it did, it would put down a pretty good amount of moisture going into early June,” he says. “That’s not all bad. It’s all going to be about timing rather than actual [rainfall] amount.”
That’s because overall moisture for May and June is forecasted to be below normal, Martin says.
“If you get it, you want to get it at a good time,” he says.
As for the “great El Niño”? Martin is not impressed.
“There wasn’t even a classified El Niño until a month or month and a half ago,” he says. “I will admit we have a very weak El Niño going on right now, and I think in the grand scheme of things, it just seriously doesn’t matter.”
Accuweather issued its summer forecasts on April 30, predicting anything from a “wet, buggy season” in the Southeast and Tennessee Valley, rainy weather for the southern Plains and drier, warmer conditions for the Midwest and northern and central Plains.
“Drier-than-normal conditions in the winter and for the most part this spring will lead to a drier soil and hotter temperatures,” says Accuweather long-range forecaster Paul Pastelok. “This can put stress on crops in this region.”
Southeastern Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, eastern Kansas and Oklahoma could dodge the more extreme heat with more potential for rain. Meantime, the southern Plains and lower to mid-Mississippi could see fewer 90 and 100 degree days compared to recent years, Pastelok says.
“It’s not as dry going into this summer season across the entire southern Plains, and I think that will have an impact on how high and how consistently we’ll hit above 90 this year,” he says.
Expect a dry, hot June and July for the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota, Pastelok adds. And in the West, the drought in California is expected to worsen this summer. Drought conditions are forecast to expand northward into the Northwest, most intensely east of the Cascade Mountains, he says.