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Alternating Weather Patterns Expected for Hoosier Winter

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Flip flops in Indiana weather recently may well continue this month and through winter according to the associate state climatologist. Ken Scheeringa says the very dry November averaged precipitation of an inch, less than a third of the normal 3 inches. Now that pattern has changed and the winter forecasts continue to suggest a mixed bag for Hoosier farmers.

“For example in November we had that cold and dry and December looks like now, at the least the first part, going more toward warm and wet. These flip flops that we’re seeing I think will be continuing and so even though we are sort of dry, especially in northern Indiana because of our dry November, probably we’ll relieve some of that drought pattern because we’re looking for a greater than normal rainfall pattern in December. So even though we’re seeing one type of drought pattern setting up in a certain part of the state, we should not hang on to that as being what the entire winter is going to be like because of these changing type weather patterns.”

Farmers are now watching the rain patterns to see if soils get a chance to recharge in time for spring planting. Scheeringa says there is plenty of time for that to occur.

“You’ve got to remember about the timing of the dryness that we’re having right now. Because we have still have about 4 months of winter left, that’s quite a bit of time where we can still recharge our soil moisture. So the corn and soybean farmers who plant their crops in April and May, we’ve got quite a bit of time to catch up on our soil moisture even if it’s deficient, so that maybe by planting time the soil could be completely recharged.”

He adds the combination of low winter evaporation rates and the harvest of corn and soybeans behind us means soil water demand is lower at this time of year, giving soils a chance to catch up. Soils aren’t likely to lose too much moisture even with little to no rain.

The lack of November rain caused parts of northern Indiana to slip back into moderate drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Sections of both northern and southern Indiana also fell back into an abnormally dry rating which is a drought watch category.

If you fear a second year in a row of drought, Scheeringa says history doesn’t support that fear.

“Historically, we haven’t had two significant droughts back to back, in part because of our geography directly north of the Gulf of Mexico,” he said. “The Gulf is a major source of our moisture and it’s really hard to shut off that water supply for an extended time. Our research shows the longest Indiana droughts have lasted about 18 months. The state can have frequent minor droughts, but if they happen in the colder months the impacts are less than if they happen during the growing season.”[audio:https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2012/12/winter-weather-2012.mp3|titles=winter weather 2012]Source: Purdue Ag Communications



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