The Indiana Livestock, Forage, and Grain Forum drew hundreds of Indiana farmers to the Marriot Hotel in Indianapolis on Monday. Keynote speakers on the day long program focused on two topics of interest to livestock, forage, and grain farmers: the weather and economics. During the weather presentation, historical climatologist Evelyn Browning-Garriss got the audience’s attention with her prediction of a normal weather pattern and ample precipitation for Indiana this summer. But what is normal? As she told HAT after her presentation, there is a new normal for Midwest weather, “Right now the Atlantic is going through a cycle of faster flow of the Gulf Stream. This brings more warm water further north and results in hotter summers.” She said this is a trend that will continue for the next 20 years. She added that Corn Belt weather patterns will resemble the kind of weather we had in the 1950s. “It is just something people are going to have to adapt to,” said Browning-Garriss. She said farmers in Indiana survived and profited during the 1950s with much less technology.
According to Garriss, while the Eastern Corn Belt will see more moisture this summer than we had last summer, the Western Corn Belt will not, “The way that the Jet Stream has gone it has avoided brining moisture west of the Mississippi.” She predicts that Western Corn Belt states will not see enough moisture this year to replenish what they lost over the last two years. She predicted that, as a result, their crops will not do well with the hotter summers that are expected.
Browning-Garriss, who bills herself as the “Weather Whisperer,” does not expect a repeat of the 2012 drought in Indiana. She called it a “flash drought” that she thinks will not occur again in 2013. She added these weather changes are part of long range climate changes that the earth has seen before. While she admits mankind does have some impact on climate shifts, most of the weather changes are natural in nature.
More coverage of the Forum can be found here.