The USDA Midwest Climate Hub in Ames, Iowa has posted its February outlook. The big feature is a good chance for earlier-than-normal warming to finish out the meteorological winter and go into spring. Here's the commentary below.
-- Bryce Anderson
The updated outlook for February has taken a bit of a turn from expected, which will lead to some different issues likely during the month. The updated outlook for February has nearly the whole continental United States in warmer-than-average conditions more likely. The Great Lakes and far northeast are the only areas outside the warmer-than-likely area. In much of the northern U.S. the probabilities are fairly small. But this is a shift from the mid-month outlook, which was still keeping cold over the north.
Conditions are more likely to be wetter from the Pacific Northwest through the Northern Plains into the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley with higher probabilities over the Great Lakes.
What does this mean for agriculture? Areas that are snow covered are likely going to start working on reducing the snow pack earlier. In the heavy snow pack areas, that is a good thing because it can extend the melt period reducing the flood potential.
The warmth will also continue to thaw soils slowly. Combined with the possibility of additional precipitation, muddy conditions are likely to be a common occurrence throughout the plains and Midwest.
Of some concern on the perennial crop side is the early start to spring in the southeast U.S. Some reports are indicating dormancy break earlier. Should this continue northward, we could be at risk of freeze problems even without a very late freeze. This will continue to be monitored.
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