Drought Monitor Says Abnormally Dry – Should We be Worried?

The US Drought Monitor introduced their D0 “abnormally dry” category across northern and western Illinois (first map). Should we be worried? We have been running about 2 to 4 inches below average on precipitation this winter (second map) – that’s both rainfall and the water content of any snow. The good news is that the demand for water is very low in winter. Therefore, the impacts on soil moisture, stream flows, and lake levels so far have been minimal.

Click to enlarge. http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

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Quiet Winter for Snowfall across central US

Snowfall across the central US has been slightly below average so far this winter and stands in stark contrast to last winter. However, the impact on soil moisture, rivers, and streams has been minimal.

Here is an example of snowfall differences. At Chicago O’Hare airport the snowfall total for this winter through January 14 is 13.7 inches. Last year through this date it was 35.0 inches and the 1981-2010 average is 14.2 inches.

In the first map are the snowfall departures for this winter. All the areas in tan or beige are up to 10 inches below average. That includes almost all of Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, and Kentucky, as well as large portions of the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio. Areas in green are above average and include a small area in far southern Illinois and another around Moline. Snowfall is above average across upper Wisconsin and the Michigan UP.  Continue reading “Quiet Winter for Snowfall across central US”

NWS Outlook for November and Winter

Today the NWS Climate Prediction Center has released their latest outlook for November and this winter. Below are the maps for November temperature, November precipitation, December-February temperature, and December-February precipitation.

For Illinois, November temperatures have equal chances (EC) of being above, below, or near-average. November precipitation is rated as EC except for the northeast quarter of the state, which has an increased chance of below-average precipitation. This is part of a larger area with increased chances of below-average precipitation across the Great Lakes region.

The category of EC is a little hard to interpret. Basically, it means that there are no consistent indications that conditions could be too warm/cold/wet/dry. Sometimes I call it a neutral forecast.

For December-February, the traditional winter months, Illinois has equal chances (EC) of above, below, and near-average temperatures. However, Illinois has an increased chance of below-average precipitation.

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Weather Outlook for Fall and Winter in Illinois

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center released their monthly outlook for September and 3-month outlooks for September and beyond. At this time, they are not expecting a repeat of last winter for Illinois.

According to them, the chance of El Niño has decreased to about 65% during the Northern Hemisphere fall and early winter. If it does show up, it is expected to a moderate to weak event. As a result, the impacts on the US and the Midwest will likely be modest at best.

September and FALL

For both September and this fall, there is an equal chance (EC) of above, below, near-average temperature and precipitation (4-panel figure below) for Illinois. The north-central US is not expected to have below-average temperatures, like it has experienced this summer. This may give crops in those areas a better chance of reaching maturity this fall.

It does look like temperatures are expected to stay above-average on the West and East Coast, as well as Alaska. Wetter-than-average conditions are expected to prevail in the southwest US, and expand into the Plains and parts of Iowa and Missouri later in the fall.





WINTER (December-February)

For Illinois, the current forecast is for equal chances of above, below, and near-average temperatures. Or to put it another way, they see no sign of a repeat of last winter. And they are expecting below-average precipitation in Illinois and across the Great Lakes region. It is still early in the year to lock in on this forecast so I would not cancel orders for snow blowers or salt deliveries just yet.