Farm Talk

March 28, 2013

Drought repeat unlikely

by Kenny Ragland
CNHI

Parsons, Kansas — The 2013 growing season looks like it is going to be dry. The ponds are still very low, the soil moisture is a foot of rain below normal and many farmers are holding off on spending money.

Well, the chances of the season staying like this are as remote as can be, according to University of Missouri State Climatologist Pat Guinan.

Area ranchers and growers heard the latest weather facts and figures during the North Missouri Weather Outlook meeting on March 13 at the Clasbey Center in Savannah.

“Historic data just do not show that a drought as record breaking as the 2012 one was, will happen again in 2013,” said Guinan. “Dryer than normal following years yes, those have happened.”

Guinan had many slides showing weather occurrences over decades. He talked about the severe drought years in the 30s and 50s. Some growers remembered them.

“We cut trees to feed the cattle in 1953,” said Dan Brewer, “and we didn’t have one of those new fancy chain saws. That was with an old crosscut saw, wedges and axes.”

Guinan talked specifically about the March comparisons, with his slide showing the blue bar for March of 2012 going clear to the top of the white screen.

“March of 2012 was the warmest and driest on record,” he said. “People were in the field for almost the entire 30 day period.”

The temperature this year is obviously very different.

“March for 2013 is cold,” Guinan said. “You still have snow in piles today.”

Guinan had a very interesting note about the large wet snowfall in early March, the second of two big storms.

“There was a blue hue to the snow when you shoveled it,” he said. “For those of you who noticed the color, that is what glacial snowfall does in Alaska.”

Another interesting statistic is that the entire year of 2012 was the warmest on record.

“We have statistics dating back to the late 1800s,” Guinan said. “Only the 1936 drought was drier than 2012.”

Last year had the warmest total days, but only the 8th hottest actual temperatures.

“That happened in 1954,” Guinan said. “Two weather stations recorded 118 degrees on July 14.”

The weather records showed two droughts in the same decade, but not in back to back years.

“The years 1934 and 1936 were both bad,” he said, “but there was a break in 1935.”

The driest period of years for Northwest Missouri was 1952-1956.

“That wasn’t true for the rest of the state,” Guinan said. “Other parts had adequate rainfall to produce crops and grazing forage.”

For a weather outlook, Guinan had the following prediction of chances for good growing conditions.

“There are equal chances of rain and dry conditions,” he said. “Already March evaporative losses are not bad at all. In 2012, those losses were enormous.”

Guinan concluded by asking growers to consider providing weather data for future university studies.

“If those of you in attendance will respond to our Website and verify you were here today, we will give you a free high quality rain gauge,” Guinan said. “It will measure up to 11 inches of accumulation.”

Respondents requesting the gauge, whether in attendance at Guinan’s meetings or not, will have to agree to record data and report it to the university study group.

For more information on Missouri weather outlooks or to become a recording site for weather data, go online to www.cocorahs. org or http://climate.miss ouri.edu. £