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‘Significant Rainfall’ in Flooded Western Corn Belt to Begin April

Despite only getting 13 inch of rain in places like Omaha, the southwestern side of the Corn Belt is still battling with the damaging floods that have cost billions in losses and damages. 

It won’t bring any of the losses back, but “the worst is over,” according to AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dale Mohler, who says the majority of the snow has melted that caused the rising levels in the rivers. 

Now the worry turns to what rainfall will be coming into areas like Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri, which were so strongly affected. 

“We still have to keep an eye out if there are heavier rainfalls further south,” Mohler says. “The concern there is that the storm track over the next two weeks looks like [the rain] is a little farther south. Places like Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri are going to see some significant rainfall in the next two weeks. The question is: is it just a little bit above normal or a lot above normal?” 

Mohler’s best estimate is that the rainfall will be a little bit above normal. A storm will arrive over the beginning of the weekend, followed by a break from precipitation until the middle of the week, with a possible inch of rainfall at the end of next week. 

“Overall, I think the next week or week and a half don’t look too bad over the southern half of the Midwest,” Mohler says. “We should be OK.”

The week after that is what causes some concern for Mohler. The strength of the storms could increase, bringing a couple inches of rain during the week of April 8 through April 15. 

“It’s a time period we’re looking at where the rivers could start to rise back where they’ve been receding,” Mohler says.

Planting update

The wetness from the flooding will slow things down with planting season approaching. Mohler says it’s a concern but didn’t seem convinced it would be a big problem for most farmers. 

“If we get a dry week or two later in April, and especially in early May, farmers can really make good progress,” he says. 

Some stretches of dry weather and sunshine will pop up around the Midwest, which should provide opportunities for farmers to do some fieldwork in the higher grounds that were less affected by the flooding. The lower grounds near the flooded rivers still have several weeks before they can dry out, he says.

April temperature outlook

In 2018, the U.S. had the coldest April in 21 years, according to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). For Iowa and Wisconsin, it was the coldest April since records started in 1895. 

Then, May 2018 was the hottest in 124 years of May records for the contiguous U.S., according to NOAA. 

Mohler says this year will be more consistent. 

“I don’t see [April] being a [particularly] warm month,” Mohler says. “Maybe a couple days here and there that are above normal and a couple below normal. Overall, I think it will end up being a degree above normal for most of the Midwest.”

Mohler says it’s also about time people begin inquiring about a late frost. 

“I would say in the west, the odds are against it,” Mohler says. “More than likely, the last frost will be between half a week and a week before it normally is.”

In the east, it looks to be the opposite.

“The last frost could be a few days to a week later than usual,” he says.

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