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Snow barreling into the Midwest

01/31/2014 @ 7:51am

As we wrap up the first month of 2014, much of the Midwest is facing yet another cold and snowy stretch of weather, a theme that has plagued the Midwest since the start of December. Currently, a band of snow is falling across southern Nebraska, northern Kansas, and northern Missouri. Thanks to abundant dry air across southern Iowa, most precipitation is evaporating before it hits the ground.

Little to no snowfall accumulation is expected north of the Missouri/Iowa border through the afternoon hours. Tonight, upper-level energy will traverse a thermal boundary across the far southern Midwest/northern Delta, resulting in an expanding area of snowfall stretching from northern Missouri into much of Iowa and western Illinois into Saturday morning. Across northern Missouri and southern Iowa, 4 to 6 inches of snowfall is possible, with 3 to 5 inches for the greater Des Moines area.

Across northern Illinois, 4 to 8 inches is possible, with 2 to 4 inches including sleet across central Illinois with mostly rain for areas along and south of I-70. Saturday afternoon, most of this precipitation will be falling as rain across Indiana and Ohio with a brief changeover to snow possible as the precipitation tapers off and colder air filters in behind the departing storm. The end result of this system will be an insulating snowcover stretching from the central/northern Plains into western portions of the SRW belt. Southern and eastern portions of the belt will likely be bare through Monday, with another wintry system Tuesday possibly spreading an accumulating snowfall event/mixed bag across the southern Ohio Valley.

Colder-than-normal weather will prevail across the central and northern U.S. next week as upper-level troughing continues. Even with this cold pattern, it does appear enough snowcover should exist to protect most of the HRW and SRW crops. Looking further ahead, considerable model disagreement exists with regard to temperatures for the 11- to 15-day period. The ECMWF remains adamant in showing a warmer pattern with near-normal temperatures for much of the U.S., while the GFS is consistently advertising a bitterly cold pattern. Our teleconections will be trending positive during the next few weeks (both the AO and NAO), with a drop in the PNA toward negative values.

Taken at face value, this would support a warmer rather than cooler pattern during the second half of February. Unfortunately, until we see more agreement between the American and European models, confidence remains very low in the potential nature of the 11- to 15-day temperatures. If the GFS solution were to pan out, the implications would be significant for skyrocketing propane prices. However, a warmer solution would prove bearish across the energy market.

Concluding with soybeans, it does appear that wet weather will continue across northern Argentina, with normal rainfall for far southern Brazil and drier-than-normal weather for central/northern Brazil. Favorable growing conditions in conjuction with increased export competition from South America should prove bearish over the next several days.

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