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Major Spring Storm Coming


DTN Senior Meteorologist Michael Palmerino was quite clear on what he thought of the projected path of a major spring storm for the middle of this week.

The storm is aiming for some of the same areas that are still recovering from the mid-March blizzard and rains that triggered historic flooding in the Midwest.

“It’s a terrible, terrible track in terms of its impact on the areas that have already seen terrible flooding back in March,” Palmerino said in an interview. “It couldn’t be any worse of a track to those having flooding in the area,” he said, pointing out that the main difference from a few weeks ago is this time it’s hitting where the snow has already melted.

He added that this storm looks very similar to the March storm and appears to be setting up to drop at least 1 to 2 inches of rain through areas of the Midwest with very saturated soils and that are flooding or have been flooded. This could set up another round of flooding.

The latest storm, which began with heavy rains in the Pacific Northwest, is expected to rapidly intensify Tuesday night into Thursday as it crosses into the Northern and Central Plains and Upper Mississippi Valley.

Wyoming, northeastern Colorado, northwestern Kansas, South Dakota, Nebraska, parts of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin are expected to be affected by the storm on Wednesday and Thursday. Weather advisories already have been issued in parts of the Midwest, Central and Northern Plains for heavy snow, heavy rain, and high winds.

The National Weather Service said there is a threat of strong winds and hail from strong to severe thunderstorms expected to hit south-central Nebraska, northern Kansas to southwest Iowa on Wednesday afternoon and evening, with isolated tornadoes along the Nebraska/Kansas border.

RAIN AND SNOW

Palmerino said the storm may initially start as rain and change to snow, and there is potential for heavy snow in South Dakota and parts of Nebraska.

The weather models show there could be widespread up to 6 inches of snow, but some areas could get up to 18 inches or more. Other areas could get 2 to 3 inches of rain, or melted snow equivalent from a mix of rain and snow.

While there weren’t any blizzard advisories out yet as of Monday evening, near-blizzard conditions are expected with the heavy snow and high winds gusting to 50 miles per hour in places. “This will have a big impact on travel,” Palmerino noted.

The NWS has already said in some places travel may become impossible with whiteout conditions.

IMPACT ON CATTLE

“For cattle, the areas I’m most concerned about with the heavy wet snow and blowing snow is western Nebraska,” Palmerino said. The center of the snow and possible blizzard conditions could also affect livestock in southwest South Dakota, northeast Colorado and northwest Kansas. Southeast South Dakota, north-central Nebraska and southwest Minnesota will start as rain and end as snow, affecting livestock in those areas as well.

He said this storm will be very stressful for cattle and calves, especially with heavy snow of 6 to 12 inches, and winds of 40 to 50 mph.

DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Joel Burgio said this storm should have a fairly significant impact on livestock, especially as it turns much colder behind the storm. While not as low of temperatures as in winter, it still will be below- to well-below-normal temperatures for this time of year in the western Midwest.

“We’re talking about deep snow, cold and wind that will increase stress on livestock,” Burgio said.

He said the heavy rain and heavy snow will be over a lot of the Corn Belt, extending from South Dakota and Nebraska to Wisconsin, but Burgio added that moderate to locally heavy precipitation could also reach Wyoming, northeast Colorado, southern Nebraska and maybe northwest Kansas.

As the system moves east, it will have warmer air and scattered thunderstorms with moderate-to-heavy rain for eastern Illinois and into Indiana and Ohio.

DELAYING FIELDWORK

“Fields are going to be very wet, and ponding in fields as well,” Burgio said. “It’s also going to add some rain into river systems — the mid- and lower-Missouri (River) and Upper Mississippi River, and that should cause the rivers to rise.”

Meanwhile, the Delta area will have a quieter week after heavy rainfall there this past weekend. However, an extreme rain event is expected this next weekend to include severe weather and heavy rains and thunderstorms — dropping 1 to 3 inches of rain, with locally higher amounts — reaching from the southeast Plains into the Ohio, Mississippi and Tennessee River Valleys. This will add to the already mostly surplus soil moisture in the Delta region, contribute to a significant risk of severe flooding, and delay seasonal fieldwork.

“I’m not sure if that’s the end of it either,” said Burgio. “The jet stream that is in place is pretty potent.” He said there continues to be an active weather pattern that will continue to bring rain into the southern and eastern Midwest.

“Even if it stopped raining, it will be a while to get into the fields,” Burgio said.

NORTH DAKOTA LUCKED OUT

Palmerino said wet conditions in fields are pretty much widespread, slowing down fieldwork, but places in North Dakota — outside of the area facing flooding concerns from the Red River — have lucked out with cooler weather helping with an orderly snowmelt. The storm track is farther south, and while the soil might be too cold to plant, farmers in the north may be able to hit the fields sooner.

**

Editor’s Note: To see what farmers in the Dakotas and Minnesota are saying about when they might be getting into the fields, see DTN Basis Analyst Mary Kennedy’s Cash Market Moves column at https://www.dtnpf.com/…

DTN Managing Editor Anthony Greder notes that the latest USDA Weekly Crop Progress Reports show spring wheat planting is behind the five-year average pace at https://www.dtnpf.com/…

Elaine Shein can be reached at elaine.shein@dtn.com

Source: Elaine Shein, DTN

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