Beth Hall

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The month of May was sprinkled with a record-breaking freeze over Mother’s Day weekend, followed by heavy rainfall the following weekend, with a roller coaster of cool periods and extremely warm periods. We often think of spring as being that transition between winter and summer with lots of ups and downs, but those extremes from one week to the next made it difficult to know what to expect more than a few days out. By the time the month ended, precipitation was slightly below normal in the southwestern and west-central parts of Indiana with the rest of the state slightly above normal. May’s temperatures averaged to only 1°F to 2°F below normal. This is a great example of how averaging data can mask the extremes that made up reality! What will June be like? The latest national Climate Prediction Center outlooks for June are showing increased confidence for above normal[Read More…]

Two weekends ago, Indiana was facing freezing temperatures that broke numerous records across the state. This past weekend into early this week, the story has been lot of rain. As of the morning of Wednesday, May 20th, the northwest counties have received over 4 inches with a northwest to southeast gradient of decreasing amounts down to around an inch along the Ohio boarder (Figure 1). Will these rains continue? The current forecasts and outlooks are predicting much less rain across the state over the next seven days (Figure 1) and only weak probabilities of above-normal precipitation into early June (Figure 2). Regarding temperatures, the forecasts suggest normal to above-normal temperatures over the next week with only moderate confidence of above normal temperatures continuing into early June (Figure 3). This should hopefully help growing degree-day (GDD) accumulations catch up to normal. To track how GDDs have been accumulating since April 1,[Read More…]

The earth’s position and movement around the sun welcomed the spring equinox on March 19th, and meteorologists in the northern hemisphere welcomed spring on March 1st. Unfortunately, the atmosphere – particularly over the midwestern and Great Lakes states – refused to acknowledge those dates to offer us a more traditional spring. Sure, Indiana’s spring 2020 has been drier than 2019. The compromise to that gift, however, came with periods of below normal temperatures, and potentially below freezing, damaging conditions this Friday across much of state (Figure 1).  This may not even be a one-and-done phenomenon as the National Weather Service is predicting a risk of much below-normal temperatures for the far northern counties in Indiana for May 13-15.  Is Mother Nature aspiring to break low temperature records? The record latest dates for 32°F or lower minimum temperatures are mostly after May 15th, so we will just have to watch and[Read More…]

The Climate Prediction Center’s outlook for May is dominated by uncertainty regarding both temperature and precipitation (Figure 1). The computer models could not settle on a consistent pattern for either above- or below-normal temperatures for the month and precipitation outlooks are only slightly confident that there will be above-normal precipitation in southern Indiana. Shorter-term outlooks through mid-May are predicting increasing confidence for continued below-normal temperatures but very little guidance regarding precipitation. Climatologically speaking, there is less than a 10-percent chance that a hard freeze (at or below 28°F) is still likely to occur aside from the northeastern counties in Indiana (Figure 2).  However, forecasts are predicting above-freezing overnight lows for this region, so the threat of any expansive, hard freeze is minimal. With the recent cold temperatures, modified growing degree-day ( accumulations have slowed. As of April 20, 2020, GDDs are running 20 to 45 units below normal (Figure 3). Enjoy[Read More…]

Staying true to global climate trends these days, March 2020 finished warmer and wetter than the 1981-2010 climate normal period. Snowfall across the state was below normal and localized flooding was a common feature. There were 3-to-5 more days than average in March where rainfall was observed. This has led to saturated soils throughout the state and a desperate need for some drying out. Will that happen? The national Climate Prediction Center is currently sending mixed messages. The April outlook suggests increased confidence in temperatures being warmer than average and slight confidence that precipitation will be above normal. However, shorter-range outlooks are suggesting even greater confidence for cooler temperatures throughout the rest of the month with uncertainty about rainfall amounts relative to normal. A significant cold wave is expected to pass through the state over the next several days into next week. Overnight lows will be at or below freezing,[Read More…]

Meteorological winter (December-February) is finally over and we can start looking forward to spring.  Across Indiana, winter brought above average precipitation (Figure 1), though below average snowfall.  The temperatures were slightly above normal (2°F-6°F; Figure 2) with no record-breaking cold periods.  Since there were so few colder-than-normal periods, the overwintering of pests and therefore increased pest populations will be a concern for this 2020 growing season. Forecasts for the next several weeks are showing high confidence for above-normal precipitation and temperature.  This pattern is currently projected to continue throughout the March through May 3-month period, and there is strong consensus across the climate community that the rain will not be as impactful as it was in 2019. Computer models are providing guidance that around 2 inches more than average are likely in southern Indiana decreasing to only one-half inch more than average in the northern counties. The 1981-2010 climate normal[Read More…]

The 2019/2020 winter has not been very white so far, and as we move further into February, it is not looking like any snowfall records will be broken. Starting October 1, 2019, most of the state is 50-75 percent of normal through February 18, 2020. This translates to as much as 10 inches of snow behind average! The 1981-2010 normal snowfall amount for the rest of this season (i.e., February 18th through April 16th) ranges from 2 inches in southern Indiana up to 10 inches in northern Indiana. Unless some major snow events occur over the next several weeks, this winter season will be one of the least snowy. That does not mean Indiana is in a drought, however! The precipitation has been falling – just not the frozen kind. Since October 1, 2019, Indiana has received above normal liquid precipitation ranging from a few inches above normal in the[Read More…]

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The initial cool wave of September is likely over as we welcome warmer temperatures for the next several weeks. The Climate Prediction Center is showing strong confidence for above-normal temperatures through September 24rd, which should help accumulate growing degree days and move agricultural production further along (Figure 1). Outlooks are showing significant probabilities for above-normal precipitation over the next few weeks, but it is uncertain how much and when that precipitation will occur. The 3-month (September-November) climate outlook is indicating significant probabilities for above-normal temperatures (Figure 2). This will hopefully discourage any cold waves passing through from causing an earlier-than-desired hard freeze event. However, keep in mind that predictions are still too far in the future to provide any certainty and climate outlooks are unable to account for a brief (1-to-3-day) event from passing through with temperatures low enough to cause a frost. Primary message: still too soon to predict[Read More…]

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The big story this week was the much-needed rain throughout most of Indiana that fell on Monday (August 19th). Since August 15th, this brought up to 5” of precipitation throughout west-central, southwest, and northwest Indiana (Figure 1). This was 2”-4” above normal for the past 2 weeks (Figure 2)! However, as we transition into September and hope temperatures stay warm to accelerate plant growth and catch up from a late-planting spring, climate outlooks are predicting higher probabilities for below-normal temperatures. Precipitation amounts are predicted to be neither above- or below normal for the first week of September, but should shift to higher probabilities of above-normal precipitation by the second week. Abnormally dry conditions continue throughout the state, but have not intensified. Where there was less rain earlier this week, relative soil moisture within the 10-40 cm depth remains below normal (Figure 3).

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Even the climate models are confused by this year’s weather.  When the August monthly outlook was released (July 31st; national Climate Prediction Center) it showed significant confidence that August would have below-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation.  However, the shorter-range outlooks (that update daily) the last few days, seem to contradict that prediction.    Whether it is the 6-10-day (August 20-24), the 8-14-day (August 22-28; Figures 1 & 2) or the 3-4-week experimental outlooks (August 25 – September 7), all are predicting significant confidence for above-normal temperatures and precipitation. Given the recent development of drought conditions across the state, these climate predictions (particularly for precipitation) are strongly desired! Will those climate outlooks verify? The current 7-day quantitative precipitation forecast is indicating very little precipitation over the next seven days. That is slightly below normal for this time of the year in Indiana (Figure 3 & 4).  It is a roller coaster ride,[Read More…]