Ag Weather Forum

Parade of Storms: Active Weather Continues

John Baranick
By  John Baranick , DTN Meteorologist
Troughs moving through North America will continue to produce rainfall chances across much of the country for the next two weeks. Rainfall amounts are smoothed out due to model variability on this ensemble image but could be locally heavy in spots. (DTN graphic)

Active weather has been the norm over the past month. After the western ridge broke into pieces in mid-August, it has never really recovered for much longer than a couple of days. That has allowed system after system to move from the northern Pacific through Canada, bringing occasional storm systems and many fronts to the U.S.

Rainfall over the last 30 days has eroded some of the ongoing drought in the Western Corn Belt, though not all of it. Still, soil moisture conditions for much of the Dakotas, Minnesota and Iowa have improved greatly, albeit too late for most of the corn and some of the soybeans.

Rainfall now is mostly detrimental for maturation and harvest, especially when it is heavy. An active pattern that continues through the end of September could make some producers grind their teeth should the showers have damaging effects on their crops or delay their planned harvest.

Indeed, the showers look to come for much of the country. The endless parade seemingly continues through next week. If there is any consolation, the showers will be mostly brief, move through quickly and have low rainfall totals outside of some moderate batches.

One storm system is trying to change that, however. A ridge across the southern U.S. will shift to the east by the end of the week. Its brief strength will cause a storm system to deepen quickly over western Canada and the Pacific Northwest over the weekend. Though it will be weakening as it moves into the Plains, it could create a storm system capable of producing moderate to heavy rainfall in spots across the Corn Belt.

Models are having a tough time with this system, however. Each model run of the European ECMWF and American GFS models treats this potential system differently, waffling on how much rain to produce and where. They are having difficulty on whether to wrap up the storm, or leave it weakening in some cases. The track seems to be off as well. So, there are a lot of questions, but the potential is there. Should heavy rain or severe weather occur with the system, it could have damaging effects for crops that are not yet harvested. That is doubly true in the Delta where soybeans and cotton are finding some occasional heavy rain due to pop-up showers across the north and heavy rainfall across the south from bands from Tropical Depression Nicholas.

But the rainfall would be good should it occur in the Plains. On top of the ongoing drought that has only recently been dented, soil moisture across the Southern Plains has been on the drier side of normal as temperatures have also been well above normal. Temperatures have climbed to near 100 degrees Fahrenheit through the front half of September with most days in the 90s. Rain and some cooler temperatures would be a favorable turn for winter wheat producers to see better establishment.

Rain in the fall is a double-edged sword -- good for some, bad for others. The pattern over the next 10 days continues to display both.

John Baranick can be reached at


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