State Climatologist Justin Glisan said farmers could be in trouble in places like Adair County if the expected precipitation levels aren’t maintained late this winter and early spring going into the planting time.
In the short term, Glisan said a La Nina patter is giving elevated chances of wetter conditions. Because January is a dry month historically it doesn’t take very much moisture for it to finish above or below average, however January finished about 1.25 inches above average in liquid precipitation in Greenfield, he said. It should be noted that it takes 8 to 10 inches of snow to equal an inch of liquid moisture, depending on the type of snow that falls. Adair County recently experienced two large snow storms, the first dropping 6 inches of snow Jan. 15 and the second giving 10 inches of snow Jan. 25.
Looking at the drought monitor, Glisan said areas of Adair County have improved over the last few months from where they were recently at.
“Given that with the drought monitor the western part of Adair County is still in the severe drought, the middle part is in the moderate drought and the southern part is in the abnormally dry area, which isn’t drought, that means that if you go back even farther, it has been dry,” Glisan said.
For example, a look back 60 days shows Adair County still above average. Going back three to six months, that’s where deficits were still stacking up.
“We still have precipitation deficits that need to be replaced,” Glisan said. “Especially in the sub soil moisture profile.”
While he expects status quo for the next month or so, La Nina signals remaining in control of the climate could mean good things for farmers come March, April and May.
“That probability [of La Nina] has moved farther west into Iowa. If we look at the three month outlook we are seeing that continued La Nina signal and happen to be on the interface between wetter and dry, so we have an equal chance of above, below or near average conditions, so it’s a clip of a coin,” Glisan said. “If you look into March, April and May, we do see these wetter chances moving into the area. I don’t expect any major improvement or degradation in the short term, but if we remain to get what we expect climatologically moving into late winter and early spring, given the longer term precipitation deficits we have going back a year, I would expect conditions to worsen if we don’t get the amount of precipitation we expect in the late winter and early spring.”