Damaging Freezes in Plains and Midwest

Corn is also at risk. Producers who got out early to plant in Kansas and Nebraska eastward through the Midwest likely did not see the current cold spell coming. Models were slow to jump on the magnitude and scope of the cold air until last week, which was too late for some producers to take notice. Crops that have emerged in these states are at greater risk for replanting needs.

This is the fourth consecutive year that April has had at least one significant widespread freeze event. Previous years have come with large storm systems with heavy snowfall to pull the cold air southward, but this year’s event has much less snow. Instead of a wound-up system like previous years, the slow progression southward of a pool of cold air behind a weaker system is the culprit. If temperatures had not gotten lower ahead of this storm system last weekend, we likely would have seen a repeat of a much stronger storm system.

Instead, only a few inches of snowfall will be recorded from Colorado to Ohio, mostly less than 3 inches except for some banding that occurred in central Kansas on April 19-20. The low amounts of snow are not likely to protect wheat and corn from the damaging cold air that settles in its wake for the next two nights.

Fortunately, this event looks to be brief. The cold air settling over Canada looks to retreat next week, being replaced by a much more progressive pattern. This will induce some rising temperatures above normal, followed by temperatures back below normal as systems go by. The magnitude of these colder shots would be much more limited than the one the country is experiencing now.

Models are much more optimistic about normal to above-normal temperatures for the rest of April and into early May. However, DTN long-range forecasters are eyeing the tropics for possible influence on the colder side. An early typhoon in the Pacific is getting attention due to what can follow as its remnants move into eastern Pacific Ocean. Models show the system having little impact, but DTN Long Range Team Lead Nathan Hamblin offers this nugget as the system is set to interact with the upper-level flow in the Pacific:

“If (the typhoon) can speed off quickly within a day or two and get absorbed, it would amplify a trough in the Northwest Pacific, which would pump (up) the downstream ridge (over Alaska). That would increase the odds of another big-ticket cold shot into the central U.S. during the first week of May.”

Surely, we will have our eyes on Typhoon Surigae during the next few days and see if it does indeed pose a threat for lower temperatures in about two weeks.

John Baranick can be reached at john.baranick@dtn.com

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