Learn About This Weather Pattern Before You Plant

March 24, 2016 02:22 PM

Itching to start planting? You’re not alone – after a record warm February and a relatively warm March (despite this week’s snowstorm across the Plains and upper Midwest), farmers want to get the 2016 crop season in gear.

Tim Marquis, a meteorologist with WDT, is reminding farmers that patience really is a virtue. More specifically, he warns that April weather may favor farmers who take a slow-and-steady approach to planting.

That’s because of a weakening El Niño, he says.

“This situation often leads to cold and wet Aprils across much of the country, including the Plains and Midwest, many times after an unusually mild winter,” he says. “Second, strong areas of high pressure are expected to dominate the Polar Regions, favorable for deliveries of cold air masses into the country. This spells big problems for planting and perhaps for all farmers across the Corn Belt, especially if these high pressure areas persist for several weeks leading to atmospheric blocking.”

As the name suggests, atmospheric blocking is when the jet stream gets blocked and pushes cold air south. This type of weather pattern has occurred several other times in April, including in 1973, 1983 and 1993, Marquis says.

Two scenarios are common with atmospheric blocking. Either one large cold-air “outbreak” occurs, or else several waves of waves of cold air and winter storms occur.

"Predicting when a blocking pattern is going to take hold is difficult, but three key signals known to meteorologists have appeared, which means the odds are higher than normal that this pattern takes hold for April," he says.

Read more of Marquis’ weather insights at http://blog.wdtinc.com/author/tim-marquis

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Spell Check

David Twente
3/25/2016 11:41 AM

  I remember the growing seasons of 73, 83, and 93. Hot, dry, drought conditions all summer long, not much of a crop.

Tom K.
Raleigh, NC
3/26/2016 08:36 AM

  '93 hot and dry? I remember record rainfall and flooding along the Mississippi in Iowa?


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