Martell: Mixed Impact From Weekend Midwest Precip Event

February 11, 2013 05:26 AM

The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of 

Mixed Impact from Midwest Heavy Weekend Rainfall February 11

A powerful storm swept through the Midwest and Mississippi Valley Sunday, producing widespread heavy rainfall from .40 to 1 inch. Far northern corn states South Dakota and western Minnesota received a heavy, wet snow, increasing the snow depth to 18-20 inches. A heavy snow-pack is considered beneficial, helping to replenish dry fields in the spring.

Powerful Storm Sunday Rain and Snow

Run-off was very significant in a swath of the northern Midwest where heavy rain fell on top of snow. This was another missed opportunity for improvement in soil moisture in eastern Iowa, southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois and north Indiana. However, further south, rains made better penetration due to gradual thawing in Missouri, central Illinois and much of Indiana and Ohio.

Drought worries are still very much alive in Nebraska, driest of the leading corn states, where a 7-inch moisture deficit has accrued in the period back to mid July 2012. Minnesota has a 6.4 inch moisture deficit, and Iowa, 5.7 inches in the same time period, leaving soils dry through a very deep layer. It is important that Midwest corns received replenishing, heavy rainfall, before spring planting begins. Stored ground moisture is insurance against summer drought, deep roots tapping into the soil moisture reserve. Without a wet spring, corn's vulnerability to drought would be enhanced in states that grow 40% of the national harvest.

Hard Red Winter Wheat in Desperate Need of Rain

Hard red winter wheat endured another week of dry conditions, despite a forecast to the contrary. The subtropical jet stream was supposed to deliver a shot of heavy rainfall to the Southern Great Plains last week, but only 15% of the breadbasket got moisture.

Dry in Hard Red Winter Wheat

It appeared for a while that the pendulum may be swinging "wet" in the Great Plains. Rainfall picked up significantly mid winter from an active sub-tropical jet stream. The High Plains, a semi-arid region, received heavy rainfall in West west Texas up through southwest Kansas. We expected to hear of wheat improvement. Surprisingly, the late January report on wheat conditions remained poor in Oklahoma and Kansas, despite the rash of heavy showers. Wheat fields may be dry through such a deep layer that one or two good rains were not enough to turn the tide of deterioration.

The history on wheat production, following a very dry fall and early winter, is not too promising for a strong recovery and favorable yields. Out of four previous instances of severe drought, October-December, only one, 1989, ultimately resulted in a favorable wheat harvest in the 1990 summer.

Hard red winter wheat made a productive harvest in 1990 due to extremely wet growing conditions January-March. Rainfall added up to 150-200% of normal. This season, nearly half-way through the January-March period, precipitation has averaged 80% of normal. Very warm temperatures last week, 6-9 degrees F above normal, were no help raising evaporation and drying out fields.

Wet Forecast Southern Great Plains

The new forecast is hopeful for heavy rain this week in the Southern Great Plains. Oklahoma would receive .75 - 1 .25 inch of rainfall, and West Texas.25 - .75 inch of moisture. Kansas would be largely bypassed, the largest US wheat state, receiving only .10 to .25 inch in the far southern counties bordering Oklahoma.



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