Meteorologist Gail Martell of MartellCropProjections.com says while the calendar says it's spring, you can't tell it by the Midwest weather pattern. She says through March 26, temps are expected to be 10 to 15 degrees below normal for Canada and the northern U.S. due to the Arctic Oscillation being in a negative cold phase.
"Snow in the northern Midwest has been perpetuated by unseasonable cold. Snow has interesting properties, at night losing heat faster than bare ground," says Martell. "The chilling effect is enhanced with a clear sky at night. Because of sharp nighttime cooling, it then takes longer for temperatures to warm up during the daylight hours. The message is that no important melting is predicted over the next several days in the northern Midwest Corn Belt and North Dakota spring wheat growing areas."
The bitter Midwest cold comes as a bigger shock than the warmth seen last year at this time, reminds Martell. "This is because of predominantly warm springs the past 25 years. A historical overview of Corn Belt spring temperatures shows the 2000s to be particularly warm, 2012 setting a record with 9 F above normal," she says. "Extreme heat continued through the summer, leading to pronouncements of global warming by scientists. Record warmth in 2012 was admittedly shocking, and supportive of ideas of global warming. Weather forces apparently have switched gears in 2013."
Forecast cold and wet
Martell says the near-term forecast remains cold and wet. "Polar air masses driving south in the United States would stall out in the mid-South. This sets up a horizontal frontal boundary separating warm air to the south from cold air north. Such a front is expected to develop Friday night creating instability where rain and snow-showers would develop. Unstable wet weather with recurring showers would continue through Saturday. The cumulative precipitation may be very heavy -- over two inches in Arkansas, northern Mississippi and Georgia. Corn states of Nebraska, Illinois and Indiana would receive at least .50 inch -- potentially .80 inch. Kansas is also in the wet zone -- expecting .50 to 1 inch of moisture in wheat farms," she says.