Ag Weather Forum

Huge Late-Spring Midwest Contrast

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst
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(Graphic courtesy of the Midwestern Regional Climate Center)

We had a recent blog posting on how the month of May was "anything but merry". But, the tremendous contrast across the MIdwest deserves further consideration--especially regarding acreage questions for corn and soybeans. A graphic with this blog entry shows the enormity of above-normal rain in the western and portions of the central Corn Belt--and as colleague Marcia Taylor mentioned when she saw this map, "...all you have to do is find the dark-blue areas and that's where prevented planting claims are being filed."

Here's an excerpt of the May breakdown from the MIdwest Climate Center in Champaign, Illinois.

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Cool West, Warm East

The Midwest saw a contrast of temperatures during May. Areas around Lake Superior and southward through Iowa and Missouri were a few degrees below normal. Around the other Great Lakes and south to about the Ohio River temperatures averaged slightly above normal for the month. The coolest area was in central Minnesota at about 3°F below normal and the warmest were in parts of Michigan and Ohio at about 4°F above normal. During the month hundreds of daily temperature records were set with a mix of record cold and record warm alternating as storms moved across the region. The warmer temperatures in the eastern Midwest brought the spring (March-May) temperatures up to about normal in Ohio and parts of eastern Indiana and Michigan. The cooler weather to the west reinforced the cool spring pattern with parts of west central Minnesota as much as 8°F below normal for the season.

Wet West, Dry East

The east-west split in the weather pattern was seen in precipitation as well in May. Heavy rains across northern Missouri into west central Illinois as well as across most of Iowa and into southeast Minnesota and western Wisconsin dropped 4"+ across broad swaths of the region with totals topping 15" at some stations in Iowa. The biggest totals in Iowa were around Marshalltown where two stations reported 15.75" and 15.93" for the month, more than three times normal. Many rainfall records in Iowa fell including the May statewide record according to preliminary numbers. Further east, drier conditions were the rule with most of Ohio picking up 2" less than normal for May. Spring totals in the Midwest were below normal along the Ohio River and across Ohio. The rest of the region was above normal for the season. Parts of six states recorded spring rain totals exceeding 150% of normal with parts of Iowa and Minnesota exceeding 300% of normal. During the month several hundred daily precipitation records were set. Spring (five states) and year-to-date (six states) totals ranked among the 10 wettest on record back to 1895 in the western states with Iowa setting a record for the month, season, and year-to-date periods and Illinois and Michigan also setting records for the year-to-date.

2013 Precipitation Ranks (starting in 1895) (1=Wettest, 119=Driest)
May Mar-May Jan-May
Illinois 12 4 1
Indiana 74 47 22
Iowa 1 1 1
Kentucky 60 39 44
Michigan 34 5 1
Minnesota 16 8 6
Missouri 17 14 7
Ohio 101 93 96
Wisconsin 12 3 2


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