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Cold, Dry Winter Expected in Midwest

Temperatures across the Midwest will be colder than normal this winter, says meteorologist Dale Mohler of Accuweather. “We could be as much as 3°F. or 4°F. below normal in parts of Minnesota. South, down toward Missouri and downstate Illinois, you might be near normal or maybe 1°F. below,” Mohler says.

Overall, this winter will bring below-average precipitation to the Midwest, although areas along the Ohio River Valley from southern Illinois to central Ohio may reach normal precipitation ranges. “This doesn’t look like a particularly stormy winter to me,” Mohler says. “Although, along the Ohio River, there could be a little bit bigger snow or ice storm at some point.”

Generally, the time period between Christmas and New Year’s is expected to be mild, but as the season continues, temperatures will drop. “The first half of the winter is drier and not quite as cold. The second half is a little stormier and a little colder across the Midwest,” Mohler says. “There could be a couple periods when it’s pretty cold in the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest, dropping below 0°F. That’s going to happen in mid- to late January or February but not so much the next three to four weeks.”

With colder and drier-than-normal conditions in the forecast, there is some concern that the frost line will be lower than usual, especially in the West. The less snow there is insulating the ground from the cold, the higher the risk for a deep frost line.

Looking toward the end of winter, a skimpy snowpack will welcome a wet but mild spring. “Given the below-normal snowpack in the upper Mississippi that we’re expecting, the spring flood threat is not particularly high this year,” says Mohler. In fact, spring rains slightly above normal may be welcomed, as low river levels become a concern for barge traffic moving grain down the Mississippi, he notes.

South America Forecast

As U.S. farmers brace for the cold, dry winter, South America heads into its summer growing season. “It’s been a little dry in Argentina. It’s not yet a major problem, but it’s starting to cause some concern, mostly in the topsoil. The subsoil is pretty moist from some earlier rains in the spring,” Mohler explains. “They will have some dryness issues in Argentina and Uruguay this summer, and it will reduce the yields some in that region. I don’t think it’s full-on, all-out drought, but it’s enough that I think it will knock the yields back a little bit in Argentina.”

Brazil has been wet in the north but normal to slightly dry in the south. Timely rains are expected, and so far, there has not been excessive heat. Mohler says these are favorable growing conditions, and he expects Brazil to have good yields.

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