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Forecast Calls For Wet Midwestern Winter, Bringing Farmers Better Soil Conditions

Forecasters say the El Nino weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean should lead to slightly warmer and wetter conditions across the Midwest this winter. That’s good news for some farmers who struggled with drought over the summer.

"It’s been an odd year. Missouri and Kansas have seen some pretty serious drought conditions, while other states have seen a lot of rain this fall,” Iowa State Climatologist Justin Glisan said.

He added that the El Nino weather pattern over the Pacific Ocean suggests the region is in for average to slightly above temperatures.

University of Missouri atmospheric science professor Tony Lupo predicted that most of the Midwest, especially Missouri, Kansas and the Dakotas, will see more snow than usual in the coming months.

“When it melts it usually soaks into the ground, and that of course helps to alleviate some of the dry conditions, or even recharge the soil for next year,” Lupo said.

Tony Lupo is a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Missouri.
Credit University of Missouri
Tony Lupo is a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Missouri.

He also pointed to heavy rains in October that “put a huge dent in the drought conditions.”

As the winter progresses, forecasters will get a better sense of how long the El Nino pattern will continue and how intense it will be. Glisan said that will help determine what the spring forecast will look like for the Midwest.

But, he said, the winter outlook with more rain and snow is encouraging.

“It will definitely help the next growing season,” Glisan said.

The news isn’t entirely good, though: Glisan said there are pockets, including eastern Illinois and western Indiana, that may see slightly lower-than-average levels of precipitation.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @jonathanahl

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