Ag Weather Forum

Season-Ending Freeze for Some

John Baranick
By  John Baranick , DTN Meteorologist
Freezing conditions during the morning of Sept. 9 brought an early end to summer crops in the northern and western Plains. (DTN graphic)

Talking about snow in early September as far south as northern New Mexico is right in line for calendar year 2020. Frosts and freezes from the Canadian border all the way down to the Texas Panhandle have been noted with this system as well as blustery winds.

The end of the filling period on corn is likely for the Dakotas, Montana, western Nebraska, and Colorado; this is an incredibly abrupt end to a hazardous season for much of this region. Heat and dryness characterized much of the region all summer long, but this system would have you think that winter was starting early. High temperatures dropped almost 60 degrees in Denver from Sept. 7 to Sept. 8.

The scenario is not indicative of what we typically expect from a pattern that is headed toward La Nina. Below-normal temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean typically promote heat and dryness through the middle of the United States. But this anomalous system just doesn't fit the pattern, which is typical of other areas of life this summer. (Murder hornets, anyone?)

The system is not all bad, however. Since the main upper trough was able to penetrate so far south into the Four Corners region, it has allowed moisture from the Gulf of Mexico to flow throughout the Plains and bring favorable rain for winter wheat planting moisture. The benefit will not be as pronounced for late-filling crops in the Midwest, but will ease extreme drought.

The cold and wet storm system will be slow to move out of the country, taking the entire weekend to finally get into eastern Canada and the Northeast U.S. This is not the start of a new trend. Temperatures look to climb back to or above normal for most of the country next week, in accordance with what we would expect with the developing La Nina pattern.

John Baranick can be reached at


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