Martell: Shallower Waves in Jet Stream Bring Change in Weather

January 13, 2014 04:50 AM



The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of 

Shallower Waves in Jet Stream

The Northern Hemisphere upper-air troughs and ridges in the jet stream have relaxed since early January. Weather conditions have become "less cold" in the American Midwest and "less warm" in Europe with more relaxed waves. The high amplitude waves previously were nature's way of creating equilibrium between the polar cold and tropical heat. Without extreme waves in the jet stream the polar areas would become increasingly colder and the tropics hotter. Nature has an effective way of re-distributing heat and cold.

Shallower Waves in Jet Stream

Strong Warming Central Great Plains

Strong warming in the top US wheat state Kansas has completed melted away a protective snow cover. Afternoon temperatures yesterday reached the mid 50s F in Kansas, while Oklahoma and Texas reported upper 60s F - low 70s F in the southern Plains. Slow growth in winter wheat has been stimulated by gradual warming in the southern Great Plains.

US Snow Cover Shrinking

Drought has worsened on the High Plains, the western third of the hard red winter wheat belt. The Drought Monitor indicates very dry conditions from the Texas panhandle northward through western Kansas into Nebraska. These are all key bread-wheat growing areas. The drought has intensified in recent weeks. This is a negative indicator for hard red wheat potential, as irrigation is not widely practiced on the High Plains.

5 Day US Precipitation Forecast

Severe drought had its genesis in California, where conditions were the driest on record in calendar year 2013. Drought has now expanded across the Southwest United States into the High Plains. These are all key cattle grazing areas that have suffered from inadequate moisture in pastures and range lands.

Russia Bitter Cold Threat Lessens

Crop watchers worried that Russia wheat exposed to abnormally mild winter temperatures may be subject to winterkill in a cold outbreak this week. However, the updated forecast is not as threatening for bitter cold this week. Moreover, a fresh wave of snow is predicted ahead of the cold wave that would insulate fields. Saratov a key wheat area in the Volga is expecting -1 F (-18 C) Saturday morning, at least 5 degrees up from earlier expectations. Hardiness in wheat has been in question following severe planting delays last fall in Russia's northern winter wheat zone. Prolonged and unusual warmth has prevailed from the fall into winter.

Prolonged Warmth European Russia

Precipitation was virtually non-existent in Russia and Ukraine winter wheat zones. Across northern Russia and Ukraine, the precipitation has increased the past couple of weeks with waves of rain and snow shower. However, southern Russia , where the majority of wheat is grown, is in the throes of drought. A 30 millimeter moisture deficit has developed the past 30 days and a 67 millimeter shortfall in 90 days in Stavropol, Krasnodar and Rostov.



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Spell Check

1/13/2014 03:49 PM

  Eastern Washington, east and north of the Columbia Basin where irrigation ends and dry land begins, the drought intensifies. We have had less than 1/2" of moisture in the past three months. Our average from October through December is 3.5" of moisture. Where I live, north east of Pasco Wa, December was the driest since I have been keeping records, which goes back to 1966. Quite a few acres have no wheat up as the wheat is still laying in dry dirt, or the ground hasn't been seeded because of the dryness. I haven't read anything about our area being in a drought.

1/16/2014 01:50 PM

  Dear producer from Pasco, I have written extensively about the drought in western United States. California experienced the driest year on record in 2013. I understand how important wheat production is in Washington, the 3rd largest wheat state in the US, behind Kansas and Oklahoma. I realize that eastern Washington has also been hit by the drought. Visit my website: and sign up for a free trial. Gail Martell


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