The Indiana State Climate Office says there are indications that Hoosiers could see plenty of weather variability in the coming weeks, and predicting November weather and beyond is proving to be challenging at the moment. Ken Scheeringa is the associate state climatologist located at Purdue University.
“Well for October we’re looking for above-normal temperatures and equal chances of precipitation, above normal or below normal. Looking into November is more difficult. We really just don’t know because the dominant drivers that we look for to drive our weather just aren’t there this year to use as a predictor for what’s going to happen in the fall. But fall is a season that we have a lot of difficulty with anyway because it’s a transition season between the summer and the winter type weather, and we’re looking for some type of indicator but it just isn’t there.”
He added the sometimes sharp break between seasons just isn’t materializing this year.
The state climatologist, Dev Niyogi, says no dominant weather driver will make it hard for a farmer to gauge late harvest weather and if there will be adequate time and windows for fall field work.
“There are some years when we have very strong indicators” he said. “When El Niño and La Niña are active, they tend to dictate the weather of our upcoming season, and we can project with higher confidence whether it will be warmer or drier.”
The fall season will be influenced by multiple air masses, any of which could dominate at any time, Niyogi said.
“If we have a tropical atmosphere becoming more active, then we can expect more warmer and humid weather conditions, with more storm activity,” he said. “On the other hand, if that is not the dominant factor, then we might have the potential for a colder, drier air mass coming to Indiana more frequently.”
Which pattern might develop as the stronger of the two is in question at this time.
“And therein lies our dilemma at this point in drawing one strong, singular conclusion as to what will dominate,” he said. “But one thing that we can say for certain is in the absence of one strong driver and that we will be influenced by multiple air masses, it is very likely that Indiana will witness wide swings in its week-by-week weather as we go into the new season.”
Adding to the difficulty in forecasting is the unusual weather Indiana has experienced in the past couple of years, especially since last year when drought was so severe that it led to fire and watering bans and drastically lowered crop yields. Indiana emerged from drought over the winter with frequent precipitation, which was followed by an abundance of spring rain that delayed many farmers in planting their crops.
Then, in another turnabout, Indiana this summer again fell into an extended dry period that brought back drought to some areas and lowered high expectations for excellent crop yields.
The U.S. Drought Monitor update of Sept. 26 showed that heavy rains the previous week brought some relief to Indiana. Several counties in the state’s midsection that had been in moderate drought, which is the lowest level of drought, improved to abnormally dry. Some other counties got enough rain to eliminate dry conditions.
Niyogi said the climate office will continue to monitor the situation to determine whether any particular weather driver seems to become dominant. The office will provide an updated outlook later in the fall.
Source: Purdue Ag Communications