Beth Hall

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On July 16th, the national Climate Prediction Center released the climate outlooks for August (Figure 1) and the August-September-October (Figure 2) period. Both outlooks are indicating a significant probability for above-normal temperatures. Precipitation is likely to be above normal for the southern two-thirds of Indiana in August, but there is little-to-no guidance for the 3-month, August-September-October period.   Abnormally dry conditions are starting to ease across the state, due to recent rainfall.  However, evapotranspiration has still been relatively high due to the warm temperatures, so dry conditions remain spotty across the state. Fortunately, temperatures are likely to be below normal through August 7th, which may help lower evapotranspiration rates.  Modified growing degree-day accumulations are very comparable to recent years in the northern part of the state, but are still lagging in the southern half (Figures 3 and 4).  

The past 30 days have been met with warmer than normal temperatures in the northern counties and drier than normal conditions throughout most of the state (Figures 1 and 2). This warm and dry environment is conducive to developing drought – particularly with the increased evapotranspiration rates. While climate outlooks are calling for increased confidence of above-normal precipitation throughout the rest of July, these events are likely to remain spotty with inconsistent coverage across the state. For planning purposes, it may be helpful to know what the forecast is for reference evapotranspiration (ET0). The National Weather Service provides a nice graphical tool ( where users can zoom into their area of interest and then view a variety of variables for future time periods out to six days (e.g., Figure 3). Several derivations of the forecasts of reference evapotranspiration (FRET) can be found at the very bottom of the variable pull-down[Read More…]

The roller coaster ride of Indiana weather continues. Things were drying out across the state with signs of browning lawns, rolling vegetation leaves, and lowering pond and stream levels. Then the rains came. Most of the state received between 2 and 3 inches of precipitation from June 20 through 29th – with wetter areas to the south and drier areas to the northeast. While this may seem good enough to relieve any concerns about drought developing, the temperatures have been high to encourage the evaporation of those wet surfaces. As a result, the US Drought Monitor has kept most of the state at “Abnormally Dry”. The climate outlook for July 8-14 shows increased confidence of below-normal precipitation with the possibility of this dryness continuing into mid-July. Additionally, probabilities are significant that temperatures will be above normal – further exacerbating any dryness due to lack of rainfall. The climate outlook for[Read More…]

Indiana has been very dry the last several weeks (Figure 1) and conditions are starting to show in lawns and fields. This dryness has been exacerbated by low humidity and warmer temperatures (Figure 2). After a nice respite this past weekend, temperatures will start rising again into the weekend, but may not seem too uncomfortable with humidity remaining low at the front end of that warming period. The short-term forecast is calling for a slight chance of precipitation over the next seven days, but expect it to be light and spotty. The good news is the climate outlooks for the rest of June is showing increased probabilities of above-normal precipitation (Figure 3), … but will it be enough to compensate for the deficit we have been facing these past few weeks?  It is too early to know for sure, but there are no major storm systems on the horizon, nor[Read More…]

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…]