Spring Outlook Favors Midwest Planting, HRW Wheat Development

February 18, 2016 08:04 AM

The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) forecast for March through May calls for above-normal precip across the bulk of the Southern Plains westward, while below-normal precip is expected across the eastern Corn Belt into eastern Iowa and eastern Minnesota. If realized, the forecast would be beneficial for Midwest planting efforts and wheat development across the Plains.

Additionally, the forecast calls for above-normal temps across the northern half of the country, including the Midwest and along the West Coast, while below-normal temps are expected across Texas and surrounding areas.

CPC Outlooks for March-May:

90temp_feb2016
90precip_feb2016


The outlook for March calls for above-normal precip across the Southern Plains, but also expanding northward into southern South Dakota. Below-normal precip is expected across most of the eastern Corn Belt. Above-normal temps are expected across the Upper Midwest, but the forecast calls for equal chances of normal, above- or below-normal temps elsewhere across the Corn Belt.

CPC Outlooks for March:

30temp_feb2016
30precip_feb2016


The CPC says the ongoing, strong El Nino is expected to be the primary driver of the climate during March. It says the ongoing El Nino has likely peaked, with a transition to ENSO-neutral expected during the late spring or early summer. "Odds of La Nina developing by next winter are substantial," is states.

Below, compare the Seasonal Drought Outlook to the current Drought Monitor:

season_drought_feb2016
dorught_feb182016


The Seasonal Drought Outlook features minimal drought east of the Rockies, while some improvement is expected across California. "Drought should persist in southeast North Dakota, and in the small areas that recently developed in southern Texas, as spring is a relatively dry time of year. In central Texas, however, spring precipitation is more robust, and with odds tilting toward above-normal precipitation in the region for March-May, drought removal is expected there," states the outlook. "Enhanced chances for above-normal precipitation should bring at least some improvement in central and upper southern parts of California, all but northwestern Nevada, northern Utah, and the area extending from northern Wyoming into southern Montana. Climatologically increasing rainfall is the primary consideration in the latter area."

However, the monitor notes that in Arizona and southern California, March begins a drier time of year, and precipitation probably won't be sufficient to bring any improvement there despite odds favoring wetter-than-normal conditions. "In the Northwest and west-central part of the country, forecasts on all time scales favor near- to below-normal precipitation, and persistence is expected there," states the outlook.