After one of the wettest springs since the National Weather Service began recording in 1895, many farmers are looking to the summer weather for signs of relief from waterlogged fields.
NOAA recently shared its summer outlook, and the forecast does indeed show some respite for the Midwest.
June and July should bring above-average temperatures in the Southwest and the east coast, but for much of the Midwest, temperatures will be on par with past summertime averages.
Farmers should see some relief in regards to precipitation as well. Most of the continental U.S. is slated for normal precipitation in June and July, with parts of the Northern Rockies and Western Great Plains showing above-average rainfall.
As forecasters look into August, those high temperatures creep into the Midwest, with much of the eastern Midwest and southern great plains seeing above-average heat through the summer months.
Stephen Baxter, NOAA meteorologist and seasonal forecaster, says that although temperatures should be above normal for much of the country, it’ll be more mild than last year.
“While it looks like a fairly warm forecast, it’s actually cooler than the same forecast we issued last year,” Baxter says.
Along with increased temperatures, more of the Midwest will see increased precipitation through the summer months, with much of the Great Plains seeing above-normal rainfall.
Despite that increased chance of rainfall, meteorologists don’t expect summer flooding to be a concern. According to Missouri state climatologist Patrick Quinan, “As you go further into the growing season, those scenarios are less likely.”
Even though the soggy spring was harrowing for big chunks of the Midwest, it did offer relief for drought-stricken parts of the country. Only 5.6% of the country is showing signs of drought, down from 8.6% in late March, per data collected and shared by the UNL Drought Monitor. As the summer marches on, the only increase in drought conditions is expected to be in the Southwest.
Move the slider to compare the current drought monitor to the drought monitor outlook for the next three months.
April was the second wettest April on record, but it was also the 11th warmest, according to Jake Crouch, climate scientist at NOAA.
“Fourteen states saw a record warm for the year-to-date, and only January to April 2012 was warmer than the same period in 2017,” Crouch says.
Much of Missouri and Southern Illinois saw 4” to 8” of rain in a two day period, with a few areas seeing more than 10”.
“It’s tempting to call it historic, but I can find similar events, in regard to the region affected, the amount of precipitation falling, and the length of the event,” Guinan says. “There have been several other events within the last decade.”
Those similar major flooding events include events on March 2008, late April 2011 and December 2015.
“We saw millions of acres of flooded bottomland, with millions of dollars of damage to row crops, pastures, orchards, sod farms, fruit and vegetable producers, community supported agriculture, Co-ops, and on and on,” Guinan says.
But he adds that while the impact on farmland has been hard, it’s not insurmountable. “We’ve actually had a period of drier weather, so in agriculture, there’s a lot of replanting going on. This time of year, there’s still time get the corn and soybean crop in.”