Ag Weather Forum

Storms May Hinder Fieldwork

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , Ag Meteorologist Emeritus
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Severe storms and heavy rain pose a challenge to Midwest fieldwork chances at the end of the March and early April. (NOAA graphic)

The Midwest, still with saturated soils from record precipitation in 2019, needs a drier trend to allow producers to get fields ready for 2020 spring planting. The 10-day forecast is somewhat drier. But, ahead of that trend, a stormy weekend may leave the region with moderate-to-heavy rainfall to cause disruptions in fieldwork, even with a drier 10-day trend.

During the end of this final full week of March, notably March 27 and March 28, prospects for storm formation are widespread through the Midwest. The NOAA Storm Prediction Center Friday thunderstorm outlook paints widespread chances for storms to form over all but the northern extremity of the Midwest, with at least a marginal risk for severe storm formation from the Southern Plains eastward to the southern Midwest. Such storms can produce tornadoes, damaging straight-line winds, hail and heavy rain

Rainfall in the southern and eastern Midwest would add to precipitation totals that in a number of areas are above to much above average -- this after the very wet year 2019. Here are some examples through March 26, 2020. Precipitation is year-to-date:

-- Illinois: Springfield 10.61 inches, 4.91 inches above average; Peoria 7.28 inches, 1.52 inches above average; Decatur 8.92 inches, 3.13 inches above average.

-- Missouri: St. Louis 12.59 inches, 5.38 inches above average; Columbia 10.93 inches, 4.50 inches above average.

-- Indiana: Indianapolis 12.63 inches, 4.85 inches above average; Lafayette 8.76 inches, 3.06 inches above average; Evansville 15.83 inches, 6.20 inches above average.

-- Ohio: Cincinnati 12.60 inches, 3.67 inches above average; Dayton 11.04 inches, 3.50 inches above average; Toledo 7.45 inches, 1.39 inches above average.

The bottom line is the eastern and southern Midwest have not been drier in total during the first quarter of 2020. And, the late week and weekend forecasts show the prospect for wetter conditions to get the second quarter of the year underway as well.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

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Bryce Anderson
3/27/2020 | 12:53 PM CDT
The Western Corn Belt can be included in the flood risk scenario. Flood watches are in effect for northern Nebraska, eastern South Dakota and southwestern Minnesota as of Friday, March 27. Rainfall of .75-1.5 inches in northern Nebraska and from 1-3 inches in eastern South Dakota and southwestern Minnesota, falling on saturated soils, is expected. These bulletins further emphasize how prone many areas are to flooding with the soil profile as loaded as it is.